As we begin a new year and a new decade, there is no better time for corporate leaders to look in the mirror and ask an important question: Does our brand behave as it should?
Like people, the actions of a brand speak louder than its words. And while brands can spend six, seven and eight figures each year on perfectly crafted websites, advertising, content, packaging, sponsorships and more … ultimately, a brand’s reputation depends on whether it upholds the promise it makes with its consumers.
Gather your company’s various statements — vision, mission, values and goals – and through this lens, take a look to see how your brand reflects these attributes to the outside. Assuming you already have a high-quality and well-functioning product or service, a few areas to consider:
Friendliness: Is the tone of your website friendly? What about those who manage the cash register, the front desk or the 1-800 number?
Responsiveness: How long does it take for someone to answer the phone or respond to an email or social media question? Do you promptly follow through on requests?
Inclusivity: Do you follow inclusive hiring practices … and what about your partners? Do the images on your website, advertising and marketing reflect the diversity of your customer base? Can you wholeheartedly defend your spokespeople, sponsorships and media buys?
Community-Minded: Do you follow sustainable or equitable business practices? Do you encourage employee volunteerism? Do you support, either through financial or in-kind donations, organizations that make the world a better place?
Problem-Solving: Most people use a product or service to prevent or solve a problem. Is your website easy to navigate and resourceful? Are employees trained to answer common questions? Do you approach every interaction with the attitude of “we’re in this together”?
Character: Do you take customer service issues seriously? Are employees empowered to do the right thing when it comes to helping customers? Does your company own up to social gaffes, mistakes or product failures?
To help answer these and other brand attribute questions, seek a perspective outside yourself. Talk to your customers. Make sure you’re not assuming anything and listen to how they describe their experience with your product or service. Also, listen to your colleagues, especially those who sell. Without question, the people in your company who are closest to your customers have a feel for what’s connecting and what’s not. Lean on them. They bring a certain wisdom of experience to that game and you should know what they are experiencing.