By Larry Miller
The dirty secret of branding: Branding is a perception, which is a noun. Not a verb. Not an action. You cannot brand anything. Only outsiders who perceive your company or product or service or even your country can brand it.
Branding is the result of how all the other components add up in someone’s mind. You can create those components – name, colors, typography, mark, tone of voice, social media verbal style, ads and literature. And if you do each component well, a positive brand perception will evolve.
So think components.
You’ve got all this corporate muscle. Company money. Personal time and sweat. Going into branding. Into image building, into looking a certain way. And finally it works and Prospect A calls the phone number she managed to find on your website. Finally! It has all come together for you. Success.
And what do you do?
You determinedly alienate this hard-won, new, optimistic prospect by demanding she “Listen carefully.” How else should she be listening? That’s either an outright insult or a paternalistic putdown.
If that does not ruin everything, you now add, “as our Menu has…” well you know. Why does Prospect A, or anyone, care that your menu has ever changed? Is she keeping track? You have just proven to Prospect A that you care about her subservience to your phone system but not about her call. Worse. She then has to sit waiting on the phone listening to bad music as your brand deflates and deteriorates in her perception.
But it’s even worse yet.
Not only have you insulted Prospect A. You have also dissed your very own company by using a tired phrase, “Please listen carefully…” used by thousands of other equally oblivious and equally faceless companies. You have ignored your individualistic branding efforts, sidestepped your own carefully honed style and opted, after all that hard work, for a universal style. You have watered down, diluted, softened, neutered, and pretty much erased your carefully worked out branding flavor and all the contributing components. (Please read carefully as…)
Anti-branding, ain’t it.
Hire a human to answer the phone.
Hire a professional designer, not a techie with design software.
Larry Miller is Creative Curmudgeon of Listen, Write, Design, www.listenwritedesign.com, in Charlotte.