How many times have you seen an entrepreneur, a small business owner, a CEO, or a C-Level Executive shrug with a partial grimace and say those exact words?
If you wear a marketing hat…too many, I’ll bet!
“Brand isn’t even measurable,” they say. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
You could say that about any number of intangible items, from insurance to UNICEF. And yet, you can name your insurance company without prompting and you know what UNICEF does. That’s the power of a brand.
“Who knows if our brand is solid?” Your audience does.
“How do we know If it’s working for us or against us?” We. Measure. It.
For years, I have been telling the people I work with, “Numbers don’t talk, they scream.”
It doesn’t matter if you are working amongst salespeople or with your social media manager; with your accounts receivable person or in your blogosphere, the numbers yell. You just have to listen to what they are telling you (whether you want to hear it or not).
A solid, consistent brand that accurately reflects the values within that organization through the delivery of its products or services will be reflected in the numbers by which the organization measures its success. Said another way: Sunshine in. Sunshine out.
Organizations that value their audience of potentials (social media followers, subscribers and the like) tend to measure the quality and quantity of those who follow them. Chances are, this organization carefully crafts the language, tone, and voice of their communication in these channels. They pay close attention to not only the levels of engagement but the feedback they receive. They probably have an outstanding immediate response rate. Their online reputation may be off the charts.
A similar business may value their onsite, right-in-front-of-them-customer more than their virtual audience and may put their available resources into ensuring the brick-and-mortar visitor receives an experience beyond their expectation…or even their imagination. Their staff may be well-versed in the brand. They feel it in their bones, delivering it as second nature. The amenities, in this case, would be unexpected and top notch, and their packaging with purchase is something customers talk about to their friends for weeks and even write into their online reviews.
Each of these scenarios paints a very different picture of how a brand is infused in an organization’s DNA. Neither is wrong and both get results if the brand is congruent with the values depicted by the organization. Each helps increase numbers: audience, engagement, review scores, interaction, purchase, and ultimately the crowning jewel—sales.
What would happen if McDonald’s decided to offer their current menu at full-service, sit-down restaurant prices and enforced a coat and tie dress code for one day without any prior information? Imagine! All of their past, present, and even first-time customers would have something to say about that—and I’d venture to guess it wouldn’t be good. McDonald’s customers’ expectations were built around the consistent McDonald’s brand. They have learned to expect a certain price point for the consistency and convenience of both the food and the restrooms. Pulling off the interstate and receiving something completely unexpected and incongruent with the education they have received would have far-reaching consequences. It wouldn’t be just the numbers screaming, though I’d bet sales (if they increased at all that day due to the inflated pricing) would fall off sharply on day two. Even if things returned to normal the next day, the fervor may not abate for weeks.
No matter the level of product or service, or the manner of delivery, your brand sets up an expectation of what you will provide to the people you want to provide it to. When you excel or fall short, you will see it in the numbers:
A solid brand strategy begins with clarity—the determination of what you stand for, what you will deliver and promise, and how you will communicate that. What do you hope to achieve and what impact will that have?
Some organizations can consistently support a healthy brand in all areas, not just those deemed most important. They have the resources and bandwidth to do it all.
Most of us can’t do all of it at once. Be realistic and make the difficult choices based upon what you value most, ensuring the message you send to the people you want to reach is the message that makes the most sense for what you can deliver now (and hope to promise in the future). Set an expectation you can exceed. Concentrate on your audience, channels, and messages you can effectively deliver now and into the future.
If you would like to think with us about how to multiply the numbers in key areas, reach out. Let’s explore the solutions together.