I’m going to pick on beauty pageants for a second. Have you ever seen the gorgeous model – man or woman, no bias here – stroll onto stage and then attempt to answer a question from the host? We all have.
The train-wreck that results when some incredibly nonsensical blather comes from the model’s mouth always surprises us. And you know why? Because we’ve bought into the striking, beautiful, compelling brand image that shockingly doesn’t live up to its promise.
Should we be surprised when this happens? Perhaps. Human nature is to judge books by their cover and then to readjust our expectations when the book/cover dynamic proves different than our hopes. The big issue I’d like to cover today isn’t about personal image, it’s about business image and consistency.
When branding is done correctly, the image that’s created – from Website design to colors and logo and tagline – is a promise of similar excellence to follow. Don’t you get a great initial feeling when you see a logo that’s sleek and powerful? Or a sense of confidence when a company’s materials are classically elegant and expensive-looking? I know I do.
Who among us would gleefully skip into a business relationship – or even a consumer relationship – with a company whose fonts are bitmapped, whose colors are inconsistent from business cards to Website to smartphone app, or whose employees dress as if ping-pong and coolers full of beer are their primary focus?
You’re smarter than that. So, let’s look at the one key item every company should focus on when they make the logical step from their well-designed profile and online image to answering the door or phone and following up on the promise of superior service.
If your image is that of a conservative, buttoned-up firm that delivers old-world style and grace…live that image. Have a real person answer the phone. Ensure you attend business and social events in suits and ties. Be visible at events that match your style – charity balls and functions, fundraisers, or museum openings.
Communicate clearly both online and in person using the language and style you have built into your Web presence. If your company is a surf shop, you can use lingo and slang in your materials and blog posts. Conversely, if you’re a pharmaceutical firm, there are whole layers of compliance and terminology you must affect in your interactions online.
Finally, get the team on board with living your brand image. While Apple had Steve Jobs and then a whole hive of workers, a lot of companies work best when the leader and the team are a little closer together in style and philosophy. If you’re the CEO, it doesn’t mean you need to go bar hopping with the staff…ever. But it boosts morale and productivity if you make an effort to know who people are, what strengths they bring to your corporate table, and who has performed exceptionally well historically for your company.
Ultimately, the well-oiled and consistent business hardly misses a step when sharing their mission, serving their customer or promoting their brand to build future business. Make sure your steps in branding or rebranding further your progress toward creating a corporate powerhouse that is exceptional, memorable and consistent.