WANT A KILLER BRAND? Create an experience first.

“My company needs a logo!” Think again. Your brand is more than just a logo, it’s a representation of the experience new and prospective customers have with your products and services. From now on, whenever you hear or think the word brand, you should replace the thought “I need a logo,” with “I need to create an experience.” Your brand is the sum total of all the experience customers have when they have any sort of contact with your company. Only then will your logo be able to do its work. (Shameless plug – WMC can create an experience for you and follow up with creating a fantastic logo for your business.)

Why is this so important? Because no matter how clever or fancy or well-designed your logo is, it will never fix a bad experience for a customer. People tend to remember how you made them feel, not what your company branding looked like. Don’t believe me? Read this great article by Carmine Gallo over at Forbes… but don’t just take his word for it, read this study at the US National Library of Medicine on the correlation between emotion and memory (if you have some time on your hands).

Memory is tied in many ways to an incredibly intense primal need for tribal membership (and therefore, survival), the biological need for procreation (posturing, presence, virility, fertility and what have you) and the spiritual (or deep learning for the less spiritually inclined) need for finding meaning, purpose and connection with something higher or diametrically more complex than the mundane. All of these things are strongly tied to the action of memory. Humans are primarily visual thinkers… even words are symbols for visual mental filing cards. Suffice it to say…

If humans respond to symbols, and your logo is a symbol of your business experience, they’ll remember what they experienced with your business

This is the job of a logo and branding system. It’s not the job of a logo to just make you look cool or to represent something you hope to be – it’s the job of a comprehensive brand solution to become a reminder of the awesome experience they had with your business… or if they’re just being introduced to your company, it should represent what they should expect to experience when they engage your services or products. A great logo is only one element of the brand experience.

So if you’re looking to take your business to the next level and your line of thinking was starting to gravitate towards getting a new logo first – take a few steps back and consider your brand. Here’s a few considerations to get you started:

1. Contrary to conventional (old) business thinking, put your best information out there

Now, more than any other time in history, people research what they’re about to spend money on. If you’re the master of your trade or craft, people have to know about it because it’s the first thing they’ll punch into their search bar. If your competitors are winning but you know your service is better, you might have an information problem. The customers you want are finding your competitors first, and they’re doing a better job of explaining what they do.

2. Roll out the red carpet and place a robe around their shoulders

Get excellent at greeting your customers. This means you should polish every single corner and crevice of your business experience from the audio greeting on your phone system to the way your business card feels in their hands… to the very comfort they feel in your bathrooms. Everything is part of your brand experience. If the first thing your prospects remember is how you treated them when they came in the door, the last thing they’ll remember when they leave is how that made them feel.

3. Deliver in excess of the lavish introduction

Polishing every nook and cranny involves, most importantly, the level of your products and services that customers can expect, and will experience time and time again. You have no business being in business if you don’t raise the bar… and if you don’t raise the bar, your competitors will do it for you. At a time when every business is looking to cut corners to increase that bottom line, you can be poised to stand out from the crowd by sacrificing a little of that short-term gain for long-term gain. Consistency and excellence is better than growth, and the ironic thing is that taking your mind off of empirical growth for an increase in consistency will generally have a positive effect on the numerical bottom-line growth you were looking for in the first place.

4. Listen to your customers, they’re telling you what you need to do

This is something we continuously coach our customers with – getting out of your head and into your customers’ minds. You can’t expect to force someone to love what you think is best, but you can shift your products and service model when you notice a consistent complaint, comment or response to how you’re currently doing things. Make the shift, its a risk well worth the reward.

5. Respond to change or you’ll become compost

Ew, compost? Yup – the nasty, rotting worm-infested heap of leftover eggshells and wilted veggies that you stuff in your eco-friendly green bin at the far reaches of your yard (if that’s your thing). If you don’t respond to change, you’ll become old news. Worse, you’ll become the fertilizer for your competitors to sprout from. Customers still have the needs you aim to serve, but if it’s waaaay past your expiration date you’ll struggle to get people to endorse your products and services. Constantly engage in step four (above) and then engage in this step: renew your services and offerings, and communicate them to your existing customer base. There is no free lunch, you have to do better. Always. As a business leader, your job is not to be worshipped and celebrated… your job is to serve more than anyone else is willing to serve. That includes your employees, that includes your customers and that includes the market you’re competing in. It seems counterintuitive to serve the industry in which you’re competing, but if you’re the one dragging the development of excellence in the field it’s safe to say you’ll be the one everyone sees pulling the ropes. Step up your game, respond to change, and deliver some surprises along the way — you’ll create an experience your customers will love time and time again, far into the future.

So NOW do I need a logo?

When you’ve gotten on the proverbial customer-experience-horse and started to ride, then your brand can do its work. That includes your logo. Let your brand be known for this experience, and your logo will become the reminder. It’s only then that your logo will do it’s job and your customers will wear it and share it with pride.

A brand system goes well beyond just a logo – that’s why we create brands, not logos, for our customers. Everything from your colors to your language style in all of your copywriting becomes part of your brand and a constant reminder of what your customers can come to expect whenever they come in contact with your business. This will stage your business for creating advertising, communications, media and services that truly work and attract new customers.

Did you enjoy this article? Please share it and feel free to leave a comment below! Thank you, and kick some ass with increasing your level of service today.