What’s in a moment? That was the subject when I spoke recently at the “Compete Through Service Symposium” presented by the Center for Services Leadership in cooperation with the ASU W.P. Carey School of Business. During our session, attendees learned that moments are everything and that they hold the key to excellent service. Here’s how…Today there is much talk of branding and building a brand. What people miss is that a brand is not a logo, it is not a company’s advertising—mostly a brand is shaped by the experiences we as people have with a business, a person or a product. In a perfect world, a well thought out brand should define a company’s service, but because so few people think of branding in this way, the reality is that service defines the brand. And if that service is less than stellar, it doesn’t matter how much money a company spends on advertising, the experience will dominate. As consumers we live in a very cynical world.
The reason service plays such a huge role in brand building can be best answered by starting with the basics. First my definition of a brand is simply two words: the Promise and the Experience. The Promise is everything you use to telegraph who you are, what you do, how you do it and how much the people you serve will love what you offer. It’s your website, social media; advertising; public relations; business cards; even you and your team’s attire, grooming, attitude etc. These things and the many others that precede you leave impressions whether you know it or not. One question worth asking is, are they leaving the impressions you want? If they aren’t then some Promise work is in order.
The Experience is the follow through on that promise. It’s your product or service, it’s the sales process, the customer service process, the technical support process, the billing process, along with the attitude, the tone the personality of the people you employ. It’s every interaction you and the others in your company have with the people you serve or wish to serve. If you are promising the moon and the sky, but delivering something short of that, then Experience work is in order.
Experiences can happen anywhere and everywhere. Cold Stone Creamery was my client for many years and based on the brand platform, the company was in the “Making People Happy Business.” I would often travel visiting franchisees as part our branding work. I would carry a Cold Stone Creamery briefcase and invariably someone would see it and say, “Hey, Cold Stone! I love Cold Stone!” In those days we encouraged everyone associated with the brand to give people who “showed the love” a Free Creation certificate right on the spot.
So I’d say, “Thanks!” or “Cold Stone loves you too!” and give the fan a free creation. It was a little thing, but imagine what a big thing it is to an airport security check-point worker who mostly deals with people at their worst. Imagine the unexpected surprise and the inevitable conversations that took place about this one little act of generosity.What I just described is a “moment,” a small instance of time, unexpected, that makes someone feel special. Moments generally don’t cost much, they just take understanding and creativity to first discover the company’s genuine brand, and how it is meaningful to the people the company serves and then how to make it different from the competitors. These three words: genuine, meaningful and different are the key to great brand moments that are unforgettable and get people talking. And it’s all that talk that creates buzz and buzz is what builds what we call breakthrough brands.
During the session, I showed attendees how to use our proprietary tool called Moments™ Maps. When HEASLEY&PARTNERS works with a company to build the Experience side of the branding equation, we develop Moments Maps to identify the right moments and infuse them into the sales, service, support, or whatever processes a company wants to bring to life. For most companies, that’s all of them.
The foundation for all of this is HEASLEY&PARTNERS’ Heart & Mind® Branding, a five-stage process that takes a company from brand creation to brand planning to full execution. Through this process, businesses and people can finally connect heart-to-heart with the people they wish to serve. The heart is where buying decisions are made, after all. We put the “why” behind the “what” and systematize it so companies win through more engaged workforce, less employee turnover, increased productivity, more leads, happier customers, more referrals and increased sales and profits. This is the closest thing I know to a silver bullet in business and it took me decades to bring it to life. Lucky for you, it’s here now.
What is branding? Heart & Mind® Branding.