Okay, so you’ve decided that marketing really is important for your business, and we’ve looked a little more deeply into the importance of the brand that you present to the world around you. Your brand, however, is a very complicated concept; it does, after all, involve everything that anybody thinks or feels about your company. So, where does one even begin to create, upgrade, or overhaul it?
Well, of course there are obvious aspects to your brand: things like your logo, your slogan, product packaging, etc. These are elements that are actively designed to be presented openly, to be given to the public specifically to answer the question, “who is your company?” (Note, this is not the same as the advertising material that says what your company does.) Press releases, charity sponsorships, participation in online discussions – all of these actions go outside of your company to influence its image.
Funny thing about people, though: they generally like to make their minds up for themselves (thus distinguishing the difference between branding and propaganda). What your company says about itself might be a useful starting point for people to understand you, but ultimately, people are going to come to see who you really are on the inside. After all, inside the business – whether literally or figuratively – is where they’re actually going to be doing their business with you.
So, don’t you think that that means that you should put at least as much effort into your internal branding as your external branding? Maybe you’ve told customers, “we’re great,” but their personal experience with your company is causing them to draw the conclusion, “no, they aren’t.” What comprises your internal branding, then? Really, it’s no different from your external branding; it’s the actions that you take to affect what your clients think and feel about your company…and trust us, they are affected by everything, either consciously or subconsciously, the second the walk in the door or open your web page.
Now, I’m not talking about anything as sinister as flashing subliminal messages at the beginning of a movie to invoke a desire for popcorn. When a restaurant demands a certain level of grooming and decorum from its servers, that’s branding and the patrons notice. When a fancy hotel leaves a mint on your pillow, that’s branding. When a company’s service staff goes above and beyond, that’s branding. Even the cleanliness and repair of the parking lot will affect a business’s image in your mind. Don’t forget about subconscious influences, either, like the colors on your website, or the layout of products in your store. What’s great, though, is that many of these little details are easy and – better yet – inexpensive to implement.
The point is, it never hurts to reevaluate your approach to creating your company’s brand. You’ve heard it suggested that you should “think globally, act locally.” That goes for branding as well, so be sure to think inside the box. While you’re at it, consider getting input from someone external to your company; give our experts a call, and they can help provide your company with that outsider’s perspective you need.