Branding is all About Colour, a Logo and Business Cards uhhh, no it’s not!
When you think of “Business Branding” what comes to mind? business cards, letterhead and a logo? About 15 years ago, that’s what I thought. Business branding is so much more than that, it’s the identity of your business. Brand practice is the key for survival. It’s how consumers connect and relate to who you are “as a brand”.
When you think of “Coca Cola” what comes to mind?
- The colours red and white
- the fancy font
- gut rot?
But this is what I think of every time I see the famous Coke logo.
When you see an old Coke vending machine, do you think back when you were a kid. I looked forward to going into town with my Dad because I was going to get a bottle of Coke. Driving into the gas station, I was very fidgety, and when he turned off the truck, I couldn’t get out of it fast enough, running up to the vending machine, putting my nickle into the slot and out comes this little but heavy glass bottle of cold sweet heaven.
Now, almost 50 years later (yes, now you have an idea how old I am), so much has been said about how “unhealthy” Coke is. YouTube videos showing how Cola is used to remove rust off a tailpipe, health warnings about the sugar level and the ultimate faux paux…on April 23, 1985, Coke decided to change it’s formula for the worlds most popular soft drink. This sparked consumer anger that no business has ever experienced. How dare they! Consumers complained by phone, by letter and after what seemed an eternity, “New Coke was short lived and discontinued a few short years later.
When consumers are in such love with a brand, it could be suicide to make any changes.
If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. Hmmm really?
January 27, 2015, Global News had a segment that announced Coca-Cola was changing it’s Canadian recipe to contain less sugar. It was also introducing smaller cans and small glass bottles. They said the move was due to a steady decline in North American Sales. Was this acceptable by consumers? of course it was! You see, in this modern day, consumers drive the brand, not the other way around. A brand can try to guide it’s consumers, but armed with the research capabilities of the internet, consumers are much smarter now.
Does this mean people have the same memories about Coke now? When I walk into the grocery store, this is what I think of when I see the newly packaged Coke cans and bottles. You can buy a 12 pack of regular cans for $5.99. You can buy a 6 pack of the smaller cans for $4.99. Huh???? In Cokes defense, the grocery stores have a lot to do with pricing. What I think of now is people are having to pay more for smaller cans in order to get less sugar. It’s not just Coke, other brands are doing it as well. Does this leave me with a negative emotion regarding the brand “Coke”. No, not really, but I don’t drink Coke anymore due to the sugar content and the sugar free versions have artificial sweeteners which have their own controversy. I have recently tried a different brand of cola which has no artificial sweeteners. The cost was $5.99 for six regular sized cans. No calories, no aftertaste, no artificial sweeteners and tasted almost like “Coke”. So is this a brand I trust? I can’t say that at this point, I don’t know enough about the company, it’s history, their views on the environment and health concerns. Will I purchase this on a regular basis? no, because I don’t have the same attachment to that brand as I did with Coke when I was younger.
What does Coke have to do with Your Brand Practice?
Simply put, it demonstrates that your brand is so much more than colours, promotional material and a logo. I believe a brand has it’s own life force. People will either like it, feel nothing or hate it. People will follow that brand around, but if that brand does something to “tick them off”, they will get into a fight and won’t speak anymore. The “friendship and trust” is gone. So does that mean that you must change your ways to keep your consumers happy? because we know that consumers drive the brand.
Brand Practice and Brand Trust with a Health Coach
Here’s a scenario: You’ve been a successful Health Coach for 10 years. You believe your calling is to motivate and inspire people to live a healthy lifestyle, by teaching them about food choices, being active and balanced. You also teach Yoga and Meditation. Your students see you as an expert in being balanced and are the epiphany of a healthy lifestyle. You charge the fees that you deserve and your customers are happy to pay those fees because they trust you.
What your customers don’t know is that you are an occasional smoker who likes a drink every night before bed and a few times a week, you eat at fast food places. If your customers saw you doing this, would they trust you anymore? what would happen? it’s likely that you will lose the respect of all your customers, they will leave, you will have a very negative reputation in the industry and you’ll be labelled as a fake. If your clients are all local, you might as well shut your doors because people talk.
Your brand is it’s own life force and if you worked your brand like the Health Coach described, your brand is on a suicide mission.
Brand Practice and Building Brand Trust Shouldn’t be Hard
If you are a home based or brick and mortar small business, building your brand trust is easy and you don’t need to pay a branding expert a gazillion dollars for something you should already be doing.
- Your calling is building top quality custom furniture, but you use plans you got on a file sharing website and fake some modifications and call it a custom design.
Your calling is building top quality custom furniture and you use specialty software (or someone skilled in specialty software) to design the plans for the idea you drew out on grid paper.
- Your calling is to inspire and motivate people, but you’ve had a bad day and fake your way through the latest webinar by putting on a forced smile and telling everyone how great your feeling and that you’re having such a fulfilled day.
Your calling is to inspire and motivate people, but you’ve had a bad day and you use this opportunity to share with people how to get through something like this in your latest webinar. Your inspiration is that we are all human and not everyone has a perfect 24/7 day.
Own it, don’t fake it!
- Your calling is to teach people how to design their own professional eBooks. You use pirated software, but write in your eBook that people must buy Photoshop.
Your calling is to teach people how to design their own professional eBooks using free and economical software apps on the internet such as Canva or a very affordable Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription.
Don’t lie to your fans, it’s just wrong on all levels!
Side Note: in a post I did last week, I wrote that I feel very uncomfortable writing more than 500 words. At the beginning of this paragraph I think I’ve written over 1,200 words. Holy Smokes!!! what happened? I feel so strongly about this topic and the thoughts and words just flowed naturally. I didn’t intend on writing about this topic, it was going to be on choosing brand colours, but it developed into a much better story.
Does this mean I lied to my readers?
Does this mean that I don’t feel passionate
about something if I only write 500 words?
No and heck no. What it means is that I’m developing over time writing to a different audience. Do I make mistakes when business blogging? of course I do, I’m not perfect and that’s not what my brand is about. I, Gisèle Grenier love to encourage people to embrace imperfection. I write the way I speak and although sometimes it doesn’t make sense right away, that’s why there is an editing process, that’s why I read my posts aloud and that’s why I get Joe to review them. Is my writing perfect after that? No way and I’m totally ok with that.
My audience last year were people interested in painting and drawing, most of my blogs were video posts.
I drove myself nuts trying to figure out how I could blend the two brands together: business to consumer for art and business to business for brand building and consulting. I gave up, because there is no need to have one brand to do both. This is called being Multi-Passionate and I thank PuttyLike.com for helping me get through this.
Do I tell my business customers about my art passion?
of course I do! I have business contacts that like to dabble in art?
Do I tell my artsy fans about my business passion?
of course I do. I have consumer contacts that want to make some money from their art?
I’m so blessed to have the best of both worlds!
Be true to who you are, practice what you preach and although consumers drive a brand, making changes to your services is perfectly acceptable. What’s not acceptable is going against your values and beliefs to keep customers happy. You want people in your tribe that have the same values and beliefs that you have. That’s how you build trust in your brand and it doesn’t cost a thing.
What’s ONE thing that are you doing to build brand trust? Does your Brand practice what you preach?
Another Side Note: The editing windows is tell me me that I’m now at 1696 words! I’m a rock star!!!