You surely have come across the word “branding” a lot of times. It is not as straightforward as it sounds but there are few things we would say about branding at the moment.
Branding is not making a new logo and flyers or going to the studio to take nice pictures of your products. Branding involves every single thing you do to make your brand identifiable and also get it into the hands of people. It includes how you relate with your customers and the impression you leave in their minds.
Some beautiful logos remind people of very poor customer care service or very bad customer experience. Why? Because someone wrongly represented the organisation. Countries can be branded too! When you go outside the country and say “I am a Nigerian”, how you are received or perceived heavily depends on what they know about Nigeria and Nigerians.
There are also organisations you go to and the impression it leaves you with is ” their services are great but they are very disorganized!”
When you hear “yellow” or see “yellow”, MTN is the first thing that comes to mind in West Africa. Same would be said for Orange and Orange Network in some African countries. This is the result of branding.
To rebrand isn’t to make a new logo or print new T-shirts. A new logo with same bad customer experience is not rebranding, nothing changed except the logo. Branding boils down also to customers and potential customers experience, it includes how the values of your organisation is uphold and expressed.
When you visit Bank A and a staff, Mrs D, treats you badly, what will you say? Let me guess “Bank A is a terrible bank! Look at how they treat their customers.” How you were treated may form an opinion about the bank in general.
Truth is that Mrs D was the one who treated you wrong but she represents the Bank where she works and anything she does in the bank is either to the credit or discredits of the bank. This tells us how individual personalities starting from the employer to the employee can greatly influence people’s perception of the organisation where they work.
When considering branding, also know that training your staff to understand and uphold the values of your organisation is a big part of the process. When you see international organisations sponsoring their staffs to certain training, they are intentionally building a brand.
Branding and rebranding should reflect what you stand for. When rebranding, for example, there should be an overhaul and what needs to change isn’t just the logo or colours, the entire organisation should reflect “we were good, now we are better!”
Branding, As a System
One of the highly overlooked aspects of branding is what I like to call “creation of system”. A system in this regard may mean a mode of operation which isn’t just for the benefit of the customer but for the benefit of the organisation. Let me give an example:
Firm A is a graphics designing and printing agency. They’ve run into debts because most of their clients don’t pay up their balance. To solve this problem and improve their services, they bring in a system. Initially, there isn’t any payment rules or paperwork. Now, they put in certain rules which includes: upfront payment of 70% or 100% of the bill before work commences and payment of the remaining 30% before the job is delivered.
To implement this, jobs are to be registered at the reception who writes a job order. The job order is delivered to the cashier who writes a receipt only with which the operator can commence work. This can be automated too. With this system in place, a problem is solved and the customer is also impressed with the formalities involved. Customers love to be impressed. Sometimes, people patronize certain businesses simply because of the way the organisation is run.
There are organisations you enter, you wouldn’t want to create a scene even when you were wronged while there are places you enter, you don’t mind breaking a head. Sometimes, these are results of systems. Customers behaviours can be improved with systems.
I am a graphics designer and just recently, I implemented a system for clients seeking logo creations, I hope to extend it soon to other areas. Initially, when a client makes a job order, I go-ahead to design what I feel would be good for the brand but some times, some clients will say ” I don’t like the colour, I don’t like the font…”
Another problem I had was that some clients would want you to make seven samples for them, some would want an express job and some would bargain the prices heavily. To solve these problems, I created a system.
Now, when a client indicates interest in my logo creation services, I give them a questionnaire to fill. They’d do it online or in a hard copy. The questionnaire will provide me with every single detail including your font choice, your choice of colour, the symbols that best represent your brand, your values, how many samples you want and so on. This way it becomes easy to give them the cost and create what resonates best with the client.
When you create a system in your organisation, do well to adhere to it. For example, don’t employ a cashier only to end up collecting payments yourself from some clients. No matter who comes to your organization, let them follow due process. It is disrespect to the office of your employees when you don’t let them do their work.
For example, after Firm A has implemented their new system, it will be inappropriate for the Manager’s friend to go directly to the manager’s office to book a job directly for him. Because of familiarity, a negative compromise may be reached. There are times intelligent compromise is necessary and this is flexibility and adaptability.
The only time compromise is awesome is when it is to the benefit of the organisation. For example, the Governor comes to Firm A and demands he wants to meet the CEO and work directly with him, it may be to the benefit of the organization. While the Governor may be in the CEO’s office, the CEO will still have to send the job registration to the reception desk from where it goes to the cashier. To the Governor, a compromise was reached for his sake but to the organization, it was business as usual.
When some of us go to the bank, we stand in queue but when certain men come to the bank, they go straight to the Manager’s office. In the words of the street in Nigeria, “e get why…”
Creating systems that promote healthy customer relationship while not compromising the organisation’s core values and standards is also a great deal of branding! It leaves a good impression to the customers and makes them feel “this person are intelligent!”
So, the next time you hear that the difference between Plantain chips and “Kpekere” is the label, tell the person who said so that it is not true… The difference is branding and label is just a part of it.
Now you know… Branding is not label.
Next time, we will discuss few things to take note of while branding.