Mon, January 24 2011

A brand rant - and three little ideas for making your brand shine

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Branding •

I’ve heard a lot of branding horror stories lately. Too often, a nonprofit - or a company - starts to have problems and decides what will fix the mess is “rebranding.” They fantasize that with a new logo, a new tagline, a new “brand promise,” all will be well! The organization forks over big bucks to an agency for what amounts to a facelift solution to a problem of character. They roll out their new look only to realize it hasn’t solved the deeper problems that led to the weakening of organization in the first place.

Your brand isn’t what you seek to project. It’s how people perceive you. It’s the impression people have in their hearts and minds when they think about your organization. That can’t be changed with cosmetics. It can only be changed with every interaction you have with your constituencies. Good branding people get this - and they will tell you that changing how you do business is more important than your color palette.

Great brands pay attention to every little interaction, and it’s those small details that amount to amazing brands. I recently heard Dennis Snow speak about how at Disneyworld, they pay attention to everything from immediately picking up litter in the park to tucking in kids’ stuffed animals in their hotel rooms. I recently flew Virgin American and didn’t have $2 cash for the headphones they sell at the gate. The staff person there told me to name my favorite soup and I could have them for free. I must have told three people that story. That’s branding.

How do your details look to the world? Pretend you’re a donor or volunteer or beneficiary of your services. What is it like to interact with your organization?

Here are three little things that you could change:

1. Your telephone system hold music. Do you play bad music when people call? Or do you offer helpful tips or special thank-yous? Imagine if you’re a pet shelter and the hold music wasn’t music at all but a dog barking and then someone telling the story of how happy that animal was to be saved.

2. Your 404 error pages. This is the page people see when they go to a broken link on your website. Most are generic 404 error messages except these fun ones. At NPR, if you click on a broken link, it says “it’s a shame your page is lost, but it’s in good company,” and then shows a list of stories about people who are missing and have never been found. Like Amelia Earhart.

3. Your thank you notes. Do you send out form letters and emails to thank donors? Are they boring? What can you do to make them really great like this?

It’s these kinds of things that leave a great impression. And great impressions - not great logos -are what makes a brand.

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