Imagine you are about to embark on a trip of a lifetime. You’ve received brochures for a luxury resort. The rooms are lavish; the grounds impeccable. Photos of the restaurant’s signature dishes look delectable. You’re sold.
You go to the hotel. The room is musty and a tad dirty. The food is barely passable. Service is brusque and spotty at best. When you complain to management, you’re met with indifference, or worse, silence. You leave disillusioned and disgusted. For all the resort’s slick marketing, they’ve fallen woefully short.
Branding goes well beyond marketing. It will not be successful without ensuring that all aspects of your business reflect and support your intended brand. One of your most valuable assets–your people–must be well-trained in articulating and delivering on your brand. This step is particularly important for service organizations that don’t have concrete products. Their offerings are soft assets like knowledge, experience and people.
When employees don’t deliver the brand, it can be the kiss of death for a business. Don’t believe me? Visit a hotel review web site like TripAdvisor.com. Peruse travelers’ comments and you’ll likely come across more than a few who cite poor customer service for their negative hotel reviews. Conversely, employees who represent the brand flawlessly and consistently can propel a business to stardom.
Brand: The Sum of All its Parts
Despite what many believe, brand isn’t about your logo, tagline and glossy brochure. Instead, a strong brand integrates multiple components, all of them necessary, including customer interactions, employee communications, corporate philosophy and advertising/marketing efforts. Your brand extends to your employees, customers, the media and even the general public as the above story illustrates. If these components don’t consistently reinforce your brand, customers will become dissatisfied. The negative impact of their perception, should they voice their opinions to other potential customers or even the media, could have a ripple effect on your business. This can erode your brand equity and create misperceptions about your company in the market, that in turn could lead prospective customers, employees and investors to pass on your organization.