When many hear the word “brand,” they may think of a company logo and the color scheme, fonts and other factors that make up an organization’s design aesthetic. Other times it is used synonymously with “marketing.”
But a brand encompasses much more than just a logo. It’s also much different than marketing.
The best definition highlighting the difference between marketing and branding is that marketing is what you tell people about your company. Branding is what people say about your company.
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, once said, “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person.” In essence, your brand isn’t just your name and logo or even the products or services you offer. It’s your company’s overall identity.
One of the biggest drivers of your reputation among customers is their experience in interacting with your company. What people say about your company is based on how well they feel you have met or exceeded their expectations for the products or services they’re providing to you.
At Pinkston, for example, we market ourselves as a strategic communications firm that provides traditional, digital and social media serves for our clients, but our brand says much more than that. Our brand is defined by the effort all of our team members put into making quality content, coming up with creative ideas and building collaborative relationships that result in high value for our clients.
What companies are good at branding through customer service?
Zappos, an apparel company owned by Amazon, has a very solid reputation in the online clothing and shoe industry. While part of this is due to their huge selection, most can be attributed to their attention to customer service. Zappos has a large customer service center dedicated to making sure that any questions or issues with their products are resolved as soon as possible.
Zappos also makes an effort to establish relationships with incoming callers. Don’t be surprised if you end up befriending one of their customer service representatives or receive a handwritten letter after your conversation. When your company is known for going out of its way to make sure its customers are 100% satisfied with the service provided, then that becomes a part of your brand.
Southwest Airlines may not have the fanciest planes, but they’re known for having some of the most dedicated and customer service-oriented employees. From ensuring the utmost safety for all passengers to creating positive experiences out of unfortunate events, countless stories have been cited about Southwest employees who are willing to go out of their way in any situation to make sure that they are accommodating their passengers in every way possible. Southwest is an airline company first, but their success isn’t found by having the most lavish planes; it’s their customer-care mindset.
Chick-fil-A is one of the most successful and highest grossing franchises in the fast food industry. They make delicious meals, but their brand is more often than not defined by their customer service.
Chick-fil-A employees are taught in training to respond to customers by saying “My pleasure.” While details such as this are very small, it’s a response that you don’t often hear from a fast food employee that enhances the customer experience.
Chick-fil-A also makes a point to ensure they are hiring people not only with a desire to work for them, but a desire to do it in a joyful fashion. The company markets high-quality fast food, but their brand is defined by happy and helpful employees.
How can a company brand itself better?
In each each example of successful branding listed above, there is one common denominator: Every company’s brand was carried by its employees.
Whether a company sells a widget or provides a service, employees are positioned to determine the brand of your company, whether that be good or bad.
Diana O’Brien, chief marketing officer for Deloitte LLP, once said that she wants all of her employees “to be unleashed as ambassadors of who we are, what we are and able to express that in the marketplace every time they’re interacting with our clients.” Ensure that your employees are willing and equipped to be an ambassador of your brand.
At Pinkston, we create a culture that encourages hard work, promotes creativity and most importantly ensures effective and efficient relationships with all of our clients. When this is achieved, our team members are able to define our brand and who we are as a company.
For our firm, it’s just important to make sure that we are mobilizing clients to utilize their target audience for branding as well. Encouraging customer reviews, creating content that engages your target audience and even deploying our film team to produce testimonial videos are just a few ways we have successfully built awareness for our clients’ strong brands.
Hunter McKay is the marketing manager at Pinkston, Inc. Stay updated on all Pinkston content by following us on Twitter (@Pinkston_co).