By Larry Miller
The dirty secret of branding:
A brand 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. Their perception is your brand. But you can influence it. How?
A brand 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, verbal style in social media, ads, literature. And if you do each component well, a positive brand perception will evolve.
So think components.
Small problem? You’ve got all this corporate muscle. Money. Personal time. That go into brand development. Into image building. Finally it works and motivates Prospect A to call the phone number she diligently managed to find hidden on your Web site. Finally! It has all come together for you. Success. —If you can convert that caller.
What do you do instead?
You determinedly alienate this hard-won, new, optimistic Prospect A caller by demanding she “Listen carefully.” That’s an outright insult or a paternalistic putdown.
You add, “as our Menu has recently changed.” Why does Prospect A care that your menu has ever changed? Is she keeping track? You have just proven that you care about her subservience to your phone system but not about her call. Now she has to sit on the phone listening to scratchy music as your brand deflates in her perception. How much in new business did that cost you?
You’ve also dissed your very own company by using a tired phrase, “Please listen carefully…” used by thousands of other equally oblivious companies. Ignored your individualistic branding efforts, sidestepped your own carefully honed style and opted, after all your hard work, for a bland universal verbal style. You’ve watered down, diluted, softened, neutered, and pretty much erased your carefully worked out branding flavor and all its contributing components.
Anti-branding, ain’t it. Instead, consider:
Hiring a human to actually answer the phone.
Hiring a professional designer, not a techie with design software.
Larry Miller is Creative Curmudgeon of Listen, Write, Design, www.listenwritedesign.com, in Charlotte. 980 245-2323. He also doubles as Design Coach.