There are certain aspects of being in business that hold true, regardless of the area you are working in. One of these is the way your ‘brand’ represents your business. I have brand in quote marks in that sentence for a reason. I think that your brand is much more than most people consider.
One of the basic aspects of your branding is the way you look and sound to your prospective market place. So you choose an appropriate logo, colours, font and so on with your designers, and then you make sure that style is reflected on everything you do. Unfortunately many businesses stop there.
Let me give you an example. I recently visited a multi chain store to buy some minor items for my garden. I should point out that this was while I was on a trip, so the actual layout of the store was unfamiliar to me. Rather than wander around looking for what I wanted I asked one of the employees where I could find what I was looking for. She was dressed in a very smart looking branded polo shirt and seemed very professional. The response I got however was “over there” and a half point before she returned to stacking a shelf. Clearly she was too busy to help so I wandered off in search of my item. Once in the general area I found myself struggling to find what I was looking for. I was about to give up when a voice said “Are you looking for something in particular?” I turned around to see, what was in fairness, a rather scruffy looking young man. He was wearing the company t-shirt but it was rather wet (he had been watering plants) and there was a big splodge of muddy soil on the front. His shoes were somewhat muddy as well and his hair was more than a little windblown. However, he had a big grin on his face and was clearly eager so I told him what I was looking for. At which point the grin faded, he didn’t know where to find it he explained. I started to say that he shouldn’t worry and I would go elsewhere when he interrupted me. He assured me he knew someone who did know and I should wait here while he fetched his supervisor. Then he bounded off at a jog before returning a few moments later with, guess who, the woman who didn’t serve me right in the first place. She looked a bit displeased but she found my item and left. The nice young man then carried it to the checkout for me, chatting all the way about this and that, before thanking me for shopping at his brand, wishing me a safe journey, and hurrying off to be useful elsewhere.
The moral of this is that there is a difference between having a brand for your business, and those involved in your business treating that brand as their own. In a recent article we discussed the benefits of using the independent over the large multi-site recruiter. The brand is the perfect example of this. To us our brand is who we are not what we have printed on our business cards. It is about knowledge, understanding, experience, specialism and personal service. The brand we present to the world is in everything we do.
That young man may have been a little different and he may have been a lot less immediately appealing than his supervisor, but he understood the brand. The logo on his shirt was there as much as it was on his so called supervisor, but he was the only one of them properly branded because he had soil on it from where he was invested in doing his job right. Sadly for most national chains this is not always the case.
You can put your logo on a t-shirt and give it to an employee, but unless they have ‘brand’ then it is just a pretty picture on some cloth.