Getting brand right is critical. I don’t write a single word for a client without first doing some brand discovery. However – as much as I love branding – I have to admit that there is something more important to your long-term success.
Your brand is what attracts customers and gives you the chance to make a first impression. Without the right brand, your ability to identify and connect with the right audience is severely handicapped. But it’s important to realize that just because you have the right brand doesn’t mean you’ve got the marketing thing all wrapped up. Good marketing starts with great branding, but its territory extends far beyond that initial foundation.
Your brand is your promise. How you fulfill that promise is the marketing that matters. click to tweet
Wait. What? You might argue that the fulfillment of your brand’s promise is your product or service. You might say that the fulfillment is about the features and benefits you deliver. I won’t say you’re wrong. The quality of your products and services is tantamount to customer satisfaction. But, you can do better than just satisfaction.
My beau and I have several favorite restaurants that we return to again and again. Every other Friday, we make our TGIF way down to the local pub where we share an order of steak fries, lively conversation with other regulars, and friendly banter with the barkeep. Almost as frequently, we drive a couple of towns over to a fabulous open-air bar that serves nouveau cuisine with a focus on seafood and steamed shellfish. The place has an island feel, good karma, and a bartender with quick feet and wits. Our newest hangout is an inviting but refined destination that serves all organic and locally sourced foods prepared on the premises by the inspired husband and wife chef team. Dark wood and brick, port wines and decadent desserts, jazz music and cool art prints, all complemented by charming service and small talk from the snappy young barman.
A pub, a beach bar, and an upscale restaurant – did you catch what they all have in common?
Though the food of each establishment is excellent (did I mention the pub’s killer pizza?) and the atmosphere delightful, the “thing” that keeps us coming back week after week, year after year is neither what we’re eating nor where we’re eating it. The “special sauce” behind the success of each of these brands is our connection to the bartender – who is, for us, the physical embodiment of the restaurant’s brand.
When we go out, we expect good food and prompt service. Those are the minimum requirements, but they won’t necessarily win us over to become loyal and raving regulars. Take another lovely, local restaurant that is dripping with upscale New England charm (including a bar made from the wood reclaimed of an antique barn) and has the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever tasted. All the pieces seem to be there, but we didn’t make a return trip because we didn’t feel any connection to the people.
How you deliver your brand experience is the marketing that matters in the long run. click to tweet
Discover and define your brand. It is the bedrock upon which you build your business. But (and this is a big “but”), don’t stop there. Bring your brand to life by going beyond your tag line and logo to give your customers an experience they’ll want to talk about. Surprise and delight them. Over-deliver on your brand’s promise.
It’s not enough to say who you are, you have to prove it by your actions. click to tweet
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking about marketing in a purely conceptual way – colors, mission statements, cool ad creative, even content for blogs and ebooks and other consumer resources. Those are all important marketing elements, but the marketing that matters isn’t about talk. It’s about walking the walk – delivering on the promise your mouth made.
How are you delivering on your brand’s promise? How could you over-deliver?
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Image Credit: Nicole Pierce