Les Jones looks at the importance of keeping your brand consistent and the dangers if you don’t.
Brands are fragile things. They can take a long time to build but they can be undermined in a matter of minutes or seconds. To take a sporting analogy – you’re only as good as your last game. Which means the key to a successful, long-lasting brand is consistency, right across the board.
Your brand is a combination of four important elements – the range, quality and price of your products and services, your image and communications, your environment (where it all happens), and your people.
Getting three out of four of these right doesn’t work…it’s all or nothing if you want your brand to work in your favour.
As an example, take these three businesses:
The first is a cool and funky cafe, it’s got a great vibe, free WiFi and all the staff are really friendly and outgoing. Only problem is…the coffee is awful (product problem).
What about the restaurant with beautifully designed menus, a knowledgeable and helpful waiting team and great food…but it’s all let down by the lighting that’s way too bright and harsh (environment problem).
And then there’s the dental practice that does great dentistry in a relaxed, warm and welcoming environment, but the experience is spoilt by the grumpy and rude person on the front desk (people problem).
It’s easy to see how one weak link lets down the whole experience and turns a customer who is a potential advocate into a detractor. How frustrating is that?
So, how do you develop a brand that truly reflects your personality and culture and delivers time and again?
Papering over the cracks
Some businesses decide that the answer lies in a ‘re-brand’ – a new logo, some fancy new graphics and a whizzy new website. But this will only work if the original weakness was with the image and communications and they need to be improved to come into line with the other three elements. Otherwise, you’re just papering over the cracks.
The real answer lies in being absolutely clear about what you want your brand or your reputation to be and then working back from that to develop a culture and environment that constantly reinforces that picture.
So, if you want to be known as a dynamic, customer-focused, specialist practice – you need to ask yourself how a practice of that ilk would look, how the people would appear and behave, what the treatment offer would look like and then bring it to life. This will be completely different to a practice down the road that has set out to create a warm, friendly, community-based practice.
Ultimately, the success or failure of your brand hinges on strong, clear leadership where the brand values are constantly reinforced and any shortcomings are immediately dealt with in a supportive and constructive way. You need a team that get it (absolutely) and buy into it (wholeheartedly), so that your brand becomes sub-conscious and transforms into a culture.
Why not take a little time away from the coal-face to take a helicopter view of your practice. Ask yourself if all four elements of your brand are aligned, or whether there are any weak spots. Once you’ve identified those shortcomings, you’re halfway to putting them right and developing the brand and reputation your practice deserves.
To learn more about branding and how to make sure yours is a true reflection of your personality, you can download a free workbook: bit.ly/2FhlEtN.