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Better Blog Branding: Is Your Brand Breaking Promises?

Branding exists in the mind of your prospects and customers. It is not about what you say, it is what they experience and remember.

Branding is how people feel.

Brands make promises.

Branding is what people think of when they hear, see, touch, smell.

Your brand “means” what they think it means, not what you tell them it means.

Volvo might mean safety to you, to many people, but it could just as easily mean boring.

Coca-Cola could be “the real thing” but it could just as easily mean “Christmas”, “Poison” or “cleaning agent”. (People really do use it to clean up blood and grease!).

Rolex could say “quality” but it could also say “poseur”, “wannabe” or “knockoff”.

Yes you need to be very careful of the messages you communicate. Of course all your communications need to be consistent. Most importantly though the experience of dealing with you needs to live up to the promises your brand makes.

Brands live or die when comfronted with the reality of the actual customer experience.

British Airways claims it is the worlds favourite airline. We know though the truth can be far from it.

Why do people choose to go to a Starbucks, Subway, McDonalds over non-chain outlets? One of the reasons is the promise of consistency, we think we know what we are going to get. Our memory and imagination tells us the risk is low, it should be clean, decent enough product and the service ought to be inoffensive. This promise has been built up by marketing, yes, but mainly experience. Open a new outlet and the same experience is anticipated before anyone even steps through the door. Living up to the experience ceases to be remarkable, but when the experience is bad, even when it is no worse than the non-chain experience, people get to hear about it. Broken promises are worse than no promise at all.

With this in mind, what promises are you making explicitly or implicitly?

For example you might project the following brand values

  • Friendly
  • Approachable
  • Fun
  • Efficient
  • Professional

What happens when someone completes your contact form only to get no response, or worse a brush off?

How about a brand that is all about helping the underdog acheive success then turns into a forum for the authors own earnings, name dropping or bragging?

The lessons here are twofold:

  1. Be very careful about the promises and expectations you create
  2. Make sure every interaction re-enforces those promises rather than breaks them

Take a long look at your brand, talk to your customers and prospects, monitor your communications. Look for anywhere you are saying one thing then acting against your words.

It’s hard to create a positive brand, but so easy to destroy one.

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Comments

  1. This fits with my 5-Fold way. You need to pick an identity and consistently act and support that position. I say it every day.
    Perhaps when greater than 0.0001% of the web population reads blogs it will change. (Do we need another zero in there?)

  2. This fits with my 5-Fold way. You need to pick an identity and consistently act and support that position. I say it every day.
    Perhaps when greater than 0.0001% of the web population reads blogs it will change. (Do we need another zero in there?)

  3. Your brand, your mission, your life purpose is defined by other people.

    It may start with what you think you want to give them, but it continues — grows and flourishes — because you fulfill what they ask of you.

    Chris, I dug the Wild West witticism “all hat and no cattle.” You earn the hat by tending the cattle.
    : )

  4. Your brand, your mission, your life purpose is defined by other people.

    It may start with what you think you want to give them, but it continues — grows and flourishes — because you fulfill what they ask of you.

    Chris, I dug the Wild West witticism “all hat and no cattle.” You earn the hat by tending the cattle.
    : )

  5. @Roger –

    You need to pick an identity and consistently act and support that position.

    Yup, in life as well as business :)

    @Slade – Heh, yes I think you are right :)

  6. @Roger –

    You need to pick an identity and consistently act and support that position.

    Yup, in life as well as business :)

    @Slade – Heh, yes I think you are right :)

  7. It’s funny, someone just sent me an email saying how I’ve started to brand my site and what not. Still quite not sure what the brand is.. or what it’s saying though.

  8. It’s funny, someone just sent me an email saying how I’ve started to brand my site and what not. Still quite not sure what the brand is.. or what it’s saying though.

  9. You’re on a roll, Chris- I’ve been digging your comments recently. This one caught my attention, because ‘branding’ is such a wierd word. Literally (speaking of cattle) a brand is one of those metal thingys that you stick in a fire until it gets red-hot, and then burn it into someone’s hide. Ouch.

    Okay, it’s a little graphic. Sorry. :) But, ‘branding’ to me somehow connotes a superficial approach, as if you can control how you present yourself, or control much of anything at all… I like Slade’s comment about being out of control of your ‘brand.’

    Frankly, I think inconsistency, as in ‘breaking promises’ is inevitable, no matter how hard one tries. The question for me is, where are the priority promises- the ones I given highest attention to? Otherwise, I can go crazy… And, how do I deal with the situation once a promise gets broken? That’s where the real strength of one’s character and one’s ‘brand’ (gotta find another word) comes through.

    Thanks for another thoughtful one…

  10. You’re on a roll, Chris- I’ve been digging your comments recently. This one caught my attention, because ‘branding’ is such a wierd word. Literally (speaking of cattle) a brand is one of those metal thingys that you stick in a fire until it gets red-hot, and then burn it into someone’s hide. Ouch.

    Okay, it’s a little graphic. Sorry. :) But, ‘branding’ to me somehow connotes a superficial approach, as if you can control how you present yourself, or control much of anything at all… I like Slade’s comment about being out of control of your ‘brand.’

    Frankly, I think inconsistency, as in ‘breaking promises’ is inevitable, no matter how hard one tries. The question for me is, where are the priority promises- the ones I given highest attention to? Otherwise, I can go crazy… And, how do I deal with the situation once a promise gets broken? That’s where the real strength of one’s character and one’s ‘brand’ (gotta find another word) comes through.

    Thanks for another thoughtful one…

  11. Thanks Chris, this post came a great time for me.

    I have opened my blog up to guest bloggers and have been overwhelmed with the response. I am happy with the slightly new direction this is taking my blog, but I don’t want it to interfere with what my readers expect (blog posts written by me). So I am NOT going to get lazy and take a break from blogging, like I am tempted to do.

    All the best,
    George

  12. Thanks Chris, this post came a great time for me.

    I have opened my blog up to guest bloggers and have been overwhelmed with the response. I am happy with the slightly new direction this is taking my blog, but I don’t want it to interfere with what my readers expect (blog posts written by me). So I am NOT going to get lazy and take a break from blogging, like I am tempted to do.

    All the best,
    George

  13. Very thoughtful and thought provoking which I enjoyed a lot.

    It is a good point about people using the services of “known” products/ services rather than the best deal. I like the analogy of McDonalds that its like you dream of eating the Big Mac until you actually do and then you just dream of going to the toilet as quick as possible….

  14. Very thoughtful and thought provoking which I enjoyed a lot.

    It is a good point about people using the services of “known” products/ services rather than the best deal. I like the analogy of McDonalds that its like you dream of eating the Big Mac until you actually do and then you just dream of going to the toilet as quick as possible….

  15. Chris,

    I certainly can empathize with what you have said in this post. The 5 Brand values you have mentioned are something my business partner and I embrace though we still have plenty of room for improvement.

    With blogs and forums becoming evermore popular its easy for your failings in maintaining promises projected via your brand to be thrown back in your face and that of many others as well. I believe the key to avoiding this is good communication with courteous and timely responses. Thereby managing the expectations of the people your communicating with and reducing the risk off a public dishing.

    Have a good one

    Mark

  16. Chris,

    I certainly can empathize with what you have said in this post. The 5 Brand values you have mentioned are something my business partner and I embrace though we still have plenty of room for improvement.

    With blogs and forums becoming evermore popular its easy for your failings in maintaining promises projected via your brand to be thrown back in your face and that of many others as well. I believe the key to avoiding this is good communication with courteous and timely responses. Thereby managing the expectations of the people your communicating with and reducing the risk off a public dishing.

    Have a good one

    Mark

  17. “How about a brand that is all about helping the underdog acheive success then turns into a forum for the authors own earnings, name dropping or bragging?”

    Hmmm….got any particular dot com mogul in mind there, Chris?

  18. “How about a brand that is all about helping the underdog acheive success then turns into a forum for the authors own earnings, name dropping or bragging?”

    Hmmm….got any particular dot com mogul in mind there, Chris?

  19. @A Tentative – Sometimes brands need to evolve over time, you don’t have to rush it so long as you are focused on providing value

    @Mark – While breaking might be inevitable and none of us are perfect, we need to strive for consistency, especially when it comes to our own values.

    @George – Just make sure your guest posts stick to the standards and guidelines you set and things should be fine

    @Jermayn – Yes unfortunately sometimes the image and reality do not meet :)

    @Mark – Managing expectations can be tricky but we all have to do it, sometimes people get so into “selling” that delivery is not thought about until too late

    @Mike – Nobody in particular, just a trend I see. It’s not just in blogs, we see in some people in other parts of life find some success and change. Just seems to be a pattern of human nature and I guess not much we can do about it :)

  20. @A Tentative – Sometimes brands need to evolve over time, you don’t have to rush it so long as you are focused on providing value

    @Mark – While breaking might be inevitable and none of us are perfect, we need to strive for consistency, especially when it comes to our own values.

    @George – Just make sure your guest posts stick to the standards and guidelines you set and things should be fine

    @Jermayn – Yes unfortunately sometimes the image and reality do not meet :)

    @Mark – Managing expectations can be tricky but we all have to do it, sometimes people get so into “selling” that delivery is not thought about until too late

    @Mike – Nobody in particular, just a trend I see. It’s not just in blogs, we see in some people in other parts of life find some success and change. Just seems to be a pattern of human nature and I guess not much we can do about it :)