Branding is a verb. An action. Thinking about it that way helps me stay clear about what it really means. Some designers will tell you it’s about putting your logo all over everything and sticking to a color palette… but it’s everything you do that customers form an opinion about.
As a logo designer, it might seem counterintuitive that I preach “your logo is not your brand” so much. But I want my clients to succeed, and I know that your logo only plays a part. Getting your brand identity system (logo, business card, etc.) on point is important, but that’s far from where it ends. It’s possible to have beautiful, inspiring, award-winning design assets and still disappoint your customers.
The expectations your customers have about you is your brand. Branding refers to the actions you take to live up to those expectations. Good design can elevate expectations… but then it’s up to you to live up to that promise.
What your customers think of you is formed in part by how your business is represented visually. But mostly, it’s formed by their experiences. Every single interaction you have with your customers is a branding message, and an opportunity for you to fulfill your brand promise. Here are a few examples:
Personality and Tone is Branding
• How do you treat and talk to people on social media? What kinds of things do you post and share?
• How would you respond to a bad review online, or a negative comment?
• What it’s like to get an email from you? Is it sales-pitchy?
• How does your website copy sound, is it written in “business speak”? Or is it written in a way your company’s personality shines through?
Customer Service is Branding
• Do you offer guarantees and honor them with a smile when customers aren’t satisfied? Or do you take a defensive posture?
• How quickly do you respond to sales inquiries?
• How efficient are you at fulfilling your product or service?
• Do you ask your customers for their feedback about their experience working with you?
• Do you apologize and make it right when you let them down?
Consistency is Branding
• What do your social media profile graphics look like, are they consistent?
• Do your documents all look like they were produced by the same company? Do you follow a stylesheet or do you format them differently each time?
• Do the images you share on social media have a consistent format?
• Do you consistently communicate what makes you different from your competitors? Your values?
If You’re Trying To Create A Personal Brand, Capture Every Opportunity To Fulfill Your Brand Promise
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the importance of customer service and professionalism in creating your personal brand online.
Here are some real statements I’ve heard from business owners in online business and entrepreneur communities:
- “Don’t worry about people unsubscribing from your list, consider yourself lucky you purged all the leeches who just want free content.”
- “I can help you get more traffic from Pinterest, feel free to send me an email but only if you’re serious.”
- “Be firm about your refund policy and don’t over promise, too many people are just out to take advantage of you.”
Now, these may not have been conversations with customers, but thousands of people probably read those statements because they were posted online. While I can understand why people get cynical, how do you think people perceive these business owners? They’ve made their view of the world, their values, clear: “Customers are not to be trusted.”
And whether they were aware of it or not, they were “branding” an impression on people about what it’s like to work with them.
Let’s say hypothetically that those statements came from one person, someone I designed a logo for. In my initial consultation, they described themselves as: “Helpful, professional, easy-going, and committed to great customer service.” Can you see how those statements would be out of alignment to potential customers? Ain’t no logo in the world gonna fix that y’all!
Think about your brand’s personality and communicate that every chance you get. That can be in your website copy, your emails, your ads, your policies, your product, your service, even your dress. As for me, I’m still in my pajamas. 🙂