So, I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to branding. I went on a cross-country road trip a week ago and I found myself acutely aware of all the branding I encountered.
First off, can I just say, I’m not wild about the new Holiday Inn branding. Maybe I’m just a purist, or I just have too many fond memories of staying at the Holiday Inn as a child and collecting all of their super-cool postcards with the picture of the hotel pool on them – whatever the reason, the new logo just doesn’t do it for me.
Take McDonald’s, for example. It doesn’t even need a name with the logo to make it recognizable. You see those golden arches and you immediately start salivating and craving a Big Mac and fries. (Or you start thinking about a bathroom that might be a wee bit cleaner than the Flying J Truck Stop…hey, don’t judge me!…traveling puts you in survival mode!) So, then, why does an oldie but a goodie like Holiday Inn feel the need to reinvent the wheel? It confounds me, really it does. Or maybe I’m just grouchy after being in the car 15 hours straight.
Make no mistake, branding is critical – absolutely vital – to the success of a business. Branding isn’t just your logo, your tagline – it actually conveys the ESSENCE of what your company is about.
And, think about this, branding isn’t just your business card, your company brochure or website – it is YOU. Employees, employers, CEO’s, everyone – we all convey the “brand” of our company.
I recently had the pleasure of dealing with the Edwardsville, Illinois Post Office as I did a massive bulk mailing for a client of ours. I was met with well-informed, helpful employees who strove to help us with our mailing at every turn – even staying late to help answer our questions and get our pieces of mail out the door. I was so impressed with these employees – and the BRAND of the post office – as I left that day. I had a positive experience with their brand and it wasn’t because of their logo, their thousands of forms and brochures, or their cool mail trucks that have the steering wheel on the “wrong” side. It was because of the people.
How we interact with our clients, our customers, our vendors all conveys our brand. There was a poll released this week of the top “most annoying sayings” and guess what the winners were? “Whatever”, “you know”, “anyway”, “it is what it is”, and “at the end of the day”. While personally when people say to me “It is what it is!” it drives me bananas, I started thinking about the use of these words and how it could affect your BRAND.
How awful would it be if I said to one of our clients about their marketing, “Well, it is what it is.” Or when I was presenting a client proposal I kept saying, “At the end of the day, we just want your business or whatever!” I don’t think we’d have very many clients!
Think carefully about how you present yourself to others when you are in a professional situation. Think about how you are affecting your brand. You might be surprised at what you catch yourself doing, saying, or thinking. You might find that you actually have more spring in your step and more purpose when you think of yourself as the billboard for your company.
I have an idea. Just channel the Edwardsville postal workers (no,not Newman from Seinfeld!) and do your job with professionalism. Think about how your interaction is building that brand.
And, if all else fails, put up a big billboard on the freeway that grabs attention – or better yet – get an interstate exit named after you such as Jones Sausage Road (Exit 303 on I-40 in North Carolina) which was named after the famous Jesse Jones Sausage Company – and give this traveler a good chuckle.
After all, it is what it is…