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By Scott Spanbauer
Emerging Strategies Marketing and Product Development and LeadCrafting CEO

How do you define "brand"? Marketing experts will generally answer along the lines of "a brand is your company image". But a brand is more than just your company image. It also includes your customers' experience and the expectation you set when doing business with your company. In short, it is promise.


Let me give you an example to illustrate this point. The other day I was in one of my favorite restaurants, and as we sat down I asked the server about any specials that evening. As she handed me my menu she told me she did not know of any specials that evening. My family and I went ahead and placed our order for food and drinks and enjoyed the meal. When we went to pay the manager told me that because we had spent enough money, we were eligible for a free gift. (We qualified by only 4 cents!) Needless to say I was both excited and frustrated, because if we didn't buy the one appetizer or one more drink, we would not have qualified for this free gift. By not developing a culture within the restaurant that stresses the importance of the server knowing about specials, this company did not live up to its brand promise. Building a brand is not just about advertising, it's also about training your staff, and many other variables that you need to pay attention to as a manager.

Brands are not set in stone. Instead, brands are constantly evolving. Brands that were strong and healthy can wither and die quickly if the company acts improperly or in opposition to their promise. It's important to remember that on a daily basis your company is either building or reducing its brand in the eyes of clients, prospects, employees, and other shareholders.

Unfortunately, too many businesses focus mainly on advertising as the method for creating brand awareness and for trying to build their brand. Businesses also need to focus on variables inside the organization too. For example, it is critical to spend time with your internal staff to make sure that they understand the brand promise so completely that they can deliver on this promise subconsciously.

Smart businesses also create strategies around managing their brand and carefully monitoring their performance on the delivery of their brand promise. You do this through surveys, feedback forms, and personal conversations with customers.

I teach a concept called Inside – Outside Marketing℠. In this approach we remind managers to focus on the truth that marketing takes place both inside and outside your business at all times. Managers and business owners must remember to take a broad look at the marketing universe when designing a unique marketing strategy for their organization. In my training workshops we introduce participants to the marketing universe so that marketing managers and executives can best craft their own unique marketing program.

The way to build your brand is to determine what you stand for and then focus on delivering that promise to your customers and stakeholders. In my example, the restaurant failed to create a culture where servers understood the importance of helping the customer by understanding the current promotions and specials. Managers and owners need to be attentive to their employee training and share this metric with employees. In the end it is very important that you plan and that you constantly measure your results against your stated goals – both inside and outside your organization.

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