Start thinking of your brand more broadly! When most people think of their organization’s brand, the logo, style guides, and corporate colors are what come to mind. Many don’t realize that everything is their brand. Stephanie blogged about customer service and the way you treat people as extensions of your brand. Every action and inaction defines your brand. This is your true brand.
Recently, I was speaking with the COO of a large company who said many years ago the company ran into reputation problems because they took on more work than they could deliver. Even though they had a great logo and tagline, it was their reputation for not delivering on-time that became their greatest brand attribute. It took a major shift in project management and years for this company to get the brand image back where they wanted it (needed it) to be.
Over lunch with a partner at a prestigious lobbying firm, we started talking about pricing strategies (yes, we have an odd sense of enjoyable conversation). One of the ways this firm signals that it is better than all the rest is to charge higher retainers than competitors. Not only are their people worth the price premium, but the higher price makes their prospective clients feel like they’re getting the best representation for their money. And the firm delivers on this expectation. I pointed out that the high price being charged simply creates brand consistency: everything at the firm is high end — the people, the access, the results, and…their prices. To lower prices is to lower the brand value. The classic example that illustrates this point is the company that figured out how to produce a great-smelling perfume for a fraction of competitors’ costs. When they went to market, the product didn’t sell even though testing showed a clear preference for their fragrance over the competition. One savvy executive had the counterintuitive idea of raising the price on the poorly selling product…sales soared. The fact is people don’t want to buy cheap perfume. And the price of the perfume created a brand image of “cheap” that overpowered all other branding elements.
Your website, content, technology (or lack thereof), client interaction, responsiveness, collateral, prices, and deliverables/products all come together to reflect on your company. This is your true brand. What does your true brand tell your prospects and clients?