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What’s the Word-on-the-Street about You?

  jamesprofessionalpictureDr James Cummings

Trusted brand stampLast week I met with a business owner to discuss a topic of interest for many owners & operators – brand management. The following day I had an interesting experience while shopping that related to the exact same topic. As a savvy consumer, and as a business consultant, I am very much in-tune with how I am treated when shopping. After this experience, I wish more people were putting forth effort to become more informed about this topic!

Having a need, I went into a store that I have shopped in before – a store I trust – to buy a very specific store-brand item. Upon arrival, I found only one of the items I was shopping for remaining on the shelf. It was the exact item I was looking for. My happiness turned to frustration when I tested the item, only to find that it was defective or broken in some way. After searching for several minutes to find an employee who could help me, I described my problem. This person took me to another staff person, to whom I described my problem. She explained to me where in the store I could find another similar item. I then located the item – a name-brand of the same thing – and agreed it would work just fine, despite the higher cost. At check-out, the second woman who helped me said, “Oh good, I’m glad you found it – that’s a better brand anyway.”

As I left the store, I couldn’t help but feel that I had been given a mixed message: “please buy our brand – no, wait – just kidding! – it’s not really that good of a brand – never mind.” Had the first item I picked up worked, I would have purchased it – the store brand. In other words, I would have spent my hard-earned money on the item with a known lesser quality. Lesser quality as expressed to me from an employee!

What is your brand?

What do your customers say about your brand?

What do your employees say about your brand?

Do you take active steps to ensure your brand exceeds customer expectations?

Do you have ANY information or data about your brand so you can offer insight into this topic?

In a world where resources are plentiful, and where scarcity is no longer the ruling factor in economics – even in a rural area– it is critical to be proactive in making sure customers receive a message that is clear and direct – not a mixed message about trust or quality. In the psychology of relationships, when a mixed message is delivered, people believe what they see, not what they hear. In business, this means the experience the customer has trumps what you say to them. Actions speak louder than words.

Brand management is about exactly that – managing your “brand” – the thing that you sell or do that makes you different from the other business down the street. The goal is to provide a smooth and complete buying experience so that customers are excited about buying from you, so they enjoy both buying from you and the product they purchased, and so that their needs are met. If customers like your brand, they like you, and then they come back! This is an active process that requires, at a minimum, the following actions:

  • Forethought about your brand so you know what it is – it’s defining an intangible concept and it takes considerable work to make clear
  • Actively collecting information from your customers about your brand
  • Responding to the feedback you received and making improvements
  • Repeat

It is important to understand that brand management must be in place prior to any marketing efforts. If this sensitive sequence is attempted in the wrong order, the task of marketing takes on an entirely new level of difficulty.

Solving your biggest business challenges using the best of the social sciences.
James Cummings, PsyD

Post by Dr. James Cummings:

Dr. James Cummings is a Private Platinum Facilitator at Tap the Potential LLC, America’s Leading Rural Business Growers.

James specializes in applying the best practices from the social sciences to solving complex rural business challenges. James holds a Bachelors in Social Work from the University of Wyoming and earned his Doctorate of Psychology in Organizational Leadership & Development from the University of the Rockies.

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