Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Brand as Experience—Creating an Instant Association for Your Potential Clients

One morning, as I was walking through Harvard Square to meet a client, I walked past a building that was newly available for lease. Not a particularly spectacular experience, but what intrigued me enough to write about it was the bright green border at the edge of the glass door that immediately brought about one thought: “Oh; it’s a Citizens. Or, was a Citizens.”

This is what a brand is, beyond just a logo or a selection of fonts. A brand is about an experience - a small moment that connects you with an organization’s product or service. There’s a certain shade of green that will always remind you of Citizens Bank; another shade of green that will always remind you of Starbucks. UPS might as well have a patent on the color brown; and those three red circles help you recognize something as connected to Target from three miles away (in fact, I just saw a hurricane relief poster in the latest HOW International Design Awards whose only connection to Target was the three circles somewhere in a tree. Looking at it, I thought “hmmm…Target?” and there it was in the notes.). This is what companies pay thousands and thousands of dollars for - to give their customers an experience so compelling that it prompts them to come back again and again.

Can I do this for you? Perhaps…but not alone. Because a brand, ANY brand, is what YOU put into it. I could make you the prettiest, most effective website around, but if you don’t promote it, by including it in your printed materials, email communications, and telling people you meet, even the craziest SEO tricks won’t get people to visit. I could create a terrific logo for you, but if you can’t tell me the story of your business, the experience you want your customers to have as a result of your product or service, how can I communicate your business effectively to your customers? How can you?

Every business, no matter how big or how small, has a story. Your brand is that story personified - through printed, online or direct communication with your business. A chat with someone at a networking event? That’s part of your brand. Your business card? Your website? Your store, or phone message, or email signature, or customer service representative? That’s part of your brand. Treat it, and your customers, with respect, and you can’t go wrong.

No comments: