How true are your brand’s promises?
This post was originally published on our blog in 2011 and has been updated and re-published.
Growing up in a small town in South Carolina meant that everybody knew everybody’s business. So, when a cheating spouse was spotted slipping around with someone other than their lawfully wedded partner, it was across town in fifteen minutes, tops. Some partners just can’t keep their promises.
Sometimes companies are like straying marriage partners; they can’t keep their promises. I mean brand promises
. In marketing your brand’s promise is the inherent pact you create with consumers based on your marketing, your communications via e-mail, phone and face-to-face.
Promise Keeper or Promise Breaker?
If you can’t keep your promises, you might offer *quality products* and then break the implicit brand promise to the consumer by refusing to replace that quality product when it fails. Or you might say you care about your customers and have the world’s hardest to negotiate phone system, demonstrating how you don’t care.
How about the oft read claims, “Worlds best food” or similar notations printed on menus and then never read the customer suggestions deposited in the “Suggestions” box.
Have you ever reviewed your actions and communications to determine if you are keeping the promises you state or imply? You may be startled to learn the truth, or then you may find out you are a faithful partner.
One of the most derided consumer facing brands
is Comcast, now called Xfinity. Consumers regularly call out the poor customer service they have experienced. Yet, on their customer service website the leader of the division states that you — the customer — is priority number one and that the company is there for you. Yet this doesn’t square with examples such as this tweet:
While there was an Xfinity response to this tweet, there is no method for the public to judge who is more truthful, especially since a search for the company name and customer service brings up hundreds of tweets about the lack of service . One of the most basic rules of branding is: The last interaction the consumer had with the brand is the brand’s promise, kept or broken. Faith is difficult to earn, hard to prove and very easy lose.
While national brands are always going to struggle in the face of consumers who may not comprehend, accept or understand your terms of service, limits of liability and other aspects of meeting their needs, your brand must always strive to provide evidence of care and concern. This begins with open, transparent help and support and demonstrations of sympathy. With regard to this, Comcast / Xfinity gets that right with their message
Never forget, consumers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to your brand.
How can you ensure you have demonstrated your caring?
6 Points to Review to Determine if Yours is a Faithful Brand
- Is there congruence between your outward marketing messages and your corporate behavior?
- Do you take regular customer satisfaction surveys that allow anonymous responses?
- Do you publish the findings from your consumer surveys, at least as customer concerns slated for improvement?
- Do you regularly implement a series of steps to correct the negative findings from your surveys?
- Does your senior staff model all the brand promises?
- So you allow staff and employees to have an active hand in the company’s direction? AND Do you have a method of surveying your employees for their views on the company’s direction?
How valuable is your brand name?
You may think you’re not a gambling person, but if you don’t own all your brand’s top level domain names, you’re sitting at the table, and throwing away all your aces. You could take a bit of advice from The Gambler
If you’re gonna play the game, boy
You gotta learn to play it right
Value can be fixed based on transactions, visits to your website and sales history. But a brand has value which extends beyond mere monetary transactions.
When you purchase your domain name for your brand, did you purchase every variable for it? If you only purchased one variant of it, you may be “out of aces” and leaving your business vulnerable to brand exploitation. As an example, no one would be better one than Ted Cruz*.
Don’t let your brand name be hijacked
Ted Cruz announced that he is running for President as a Republican candidate. His conservative stance upsets many on the left and in the middle. Opponents of his candidacy took advantage of available domain names related to the candidate’s brand/name. And It didn’t take them long to get busy with mischief. Because the Cruz campaign didn’t purchase these domains, there is now a bit of PR kerfuffle for the team to pay attention to when they probably would rather be working on other aspects of their candidate’s campaign.
The mischief makers redirected the domains they purchased (which should have been purchased by Cruz and his campaign long ago) to websites which are antithetical to Cruz’s platform and stated views.
- readyforcruz.org is redirected to plannedparenthood.org
- tedcruz.com has a message in support of President Obama
- tedcruzforamerica.com is redirected to healthecare.gov
Anyone can purchase a domain name.
Back in the height of the housing bubble in 2006, homeowners who were disgusted with their homes constructed by a major national volume homebuilder, purchased a domain that was negative towards that homebuilder. They posted a website at that domain declaring for all the world how much they hated their homes and the builder. Even today,
- www.kb-homesucks.com is still proclaiming for all to see how much these homeowners hate the builder.
- www.kbhomesleak.com obviously states certain owner’s dissatisfaction.
Go beyond .com
When you purchase your brand’s domain name, purchase all available variants of it that you can afford. Include .com, .net, .org, .biz, .us and more. While you may never use these domain names to refer to a website, you don’t want to leave yourself vulnerable to pranksters or even competitors who decide to hijack your good brand and use it for their benefit.
As Kenny Rogers sang, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em.”
*We are not stating any partisanship nor support for any candidate by authoring this post. We are merely using this situation as a teachable moment for all business owners.
Your personal appearance is your brand identity
We’ve all had the experience — at the end of a long day discovering we’ve worn one black shoe and one blue shoe, or socks that don’t match or have worn our shirt inside out all day long…and no one noticed. When this has happened to me, I find myself wondering, “Why didn’t anybody tell me?” I also wonder who now thinks of me as sloppy, or someone who doesn’t attend to details.
For most of us, our personal appearance is important. We take care to groom ourselves to present a presence which reflects and reinforces our sense of self.
The ante is upped when you are a company delegate who speaks with the public or the media. You are an embodiment of the brand experience.
As a leader, you are the exemplar of your firm’s brand. You must check yourself in the mirror or ask your colleagues to review your clothing, appearance and presence to evaluate whether or not your appearance reflects the values of the brand.
When you make a personal appearance representing your business, you ARE the brand.
Because of a shirt, for a moment, the world was inadvertently focused, not on the Rosetta Project’s success — as the Philae lander approached a comet — but on Rosetta Project scientist Matt Taylor’s shirt
which was insensitively selected, given his position of leadership and need to appear on camera for interviews.
If the European Space Agency’s PR person had reviewed their team member’s appearance prior to interviews, perhaps all eyes would have been on mission success, not the shirt. With a bit more thought, the public relations team would not be defending the leader’s values and their congruence with the space agency’s, but would be talking more about the globally recognized accomplishment of getting a probe to land on a comet.
So, when is a shirt more than a shirt? Or a shoe more than a shoe? When worn by a leader.
Update: Taylor apologizes saying,
“I made a big mistake, and I offended many people,” Taylor said at Friday’s media briefing, his voice trembling, “and I’m very sorry about this.” Read more
Photo credit: By: Charlotte L