Posts Tagged ‘brand’

Tackling the Special Challenges of Building and Sustaining Strong Service Brands

Thursday, August 12th, 2021

Much of my work over the years has been with “service brands”—brands that are not tied to a particular product, but to the delivery of some type of service—educational services, healthcare services, energy services, engineering services, consulting services, etc.

Developing and maintaining a strong brand for a service is, in my opinion, significantly more challenging than developing and maintaining a strong brand for a product. Why? Because a service is less tangible, more ephemeral—and often involves multiple “touchpoints” that really determine the “brand experience.”

Critical Elements of a Strong Brand

What makes a strong brand? Recognizability. Performance. Consistency.

When we’re talking about a product—a carbonated beverage, for example—recognizability can come through a logo and design, performance comes through the taste of the beverage, consistency is an element of the manufacturing process.

But, when we’re talking about a service, the process of brand management becomes much more complex.

Recognizability

While recognizability is impacted by logos and design elements, there are other factors to consider. If you practice out of an office or a clinic, your physical location and how it looks, how it’s furnished, etc., will impact your recognizability and your brand. Consultants who travel to client locations, for example, are themselves a key component of the brand – including how they dress and the type of vehicle they drive (and how well maintained it is).

Performance

How is a healthcare organization’s performance defined? By the physician? The registration clerk? The distance from the parking lot to the front door? The cleanliness of the facility? The magazines in the waiting room? The delivery of care (and how do we, as non-clinical consumers, measure that?)? Yes—all of these things, and more! For healthcare and other service organizations (which would include restaurants, retail stores, etc.), performance is a multi-faceted process with multiple touchpoints and multiple opportunities to either strengthen or weaken the brand.

Consistency

And, finally, consistency. The greatest challenge of all. While product consistency can certainly be challenging, there are more tangibles to deal with in the product arena. The challenge for service marketers in managing a brand involves managing human inputs and human actions. Significantly more challenging than ensuring that the right physical ingredients are combined in the right proportions in the right environmental conditions to produce a consistent result.

…and the People!

It often comes as a surprise to those in service businesses that managing the marketing process, specifically the branding process, involves a significant amount of focus on managing people. This involves developing and communicating standards and processes. It involves ensuring consistency in such things as how the phone is answered, how employees dress, service standards, hand-offs between departments, how employees talk to and about each other, etc.

Too often as we focus on other important elements of the brand—like the logo, the name, the company colors, the design templates, etc.—we can have a tendency to forget about what is most important about the brand (recognizability, performance, and consistency). In service organizations, we may also tend to forget about the people and the significant impact they have on the customer experience.

About Us

Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We work with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content. Whether on- or offline, or both, we’ll help you achieve desired results.

(Strategic Communications is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise through the Wisconsin Department of Administration.)

Stay up-to-date on the latest traditional and digital marketing trends and insights for communication leaders: subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.

Recommended Reading:

21st Century Secrets to Effective PR

Managing Remote Staff

Direct Mail in the Digital Age

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Strategic Planning

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

Best Practices in Influencer Marketing

When Your Brand is the Victim of an Epic Fail

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

 

20846299 - typography illustration poster of brand management wordsby Justin Grensing, Esq., MBA

Companies spend big money on celebrity endorsements. Nike alone spends billions of dollars on celebrity endorsements each year. Sometimes, the endorsements simply serve to bring publicity to a brand. Or they may entice consumers who want to emulate celebrities they respect. “A Taiwanese study shows that consumers show greater recall of products that have been endorsed by celebrities—regardless of whether they are actual fans or not,” says Guided Selling. (more…)

Companies Need to Make Sure Everyone, from the CEO on Down, Recognizes the Impact of Their Words

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

In a highly publicized conference call, first reported by Forbes, Papa John’s founder John Schnatter used the “N-word” during a discussion between Papa John’s executives and marketing agency Laundry Service. What followed was weeks of turmoil where Schnatter first stepped down as chairman of the Papa John’s board of directors, then said his decision to step down was a mistake, and then filed a lawsuit against the company he founded for what he describes as the “heavy-handed” way he was treated. The company’s stock has (more…)

Building Your Brand Story, One Piece at a Time

Thursday, December 28th, 2017

Brands are made up of multiple components – your product or service; your logos, advertising campaigns, public relations and sponsorships; the behaviors of your employees and your customers’ interactions with them; the personalities of the top executives and/or owners, etc. As we’ve said many times before, it’s ultimately the market that truly defines your brand, and they do so by absorbing all of the elements we just mentioned into an overall image in their mind of who your company is and what it stands for. (more…)

Toward a Broader Understanding of Brand

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

Most businesspeople and students of marketing would probably agree with the statement that your brand is important. Yet, despite this importance, the concept of a brand isn’t always easy to grasp. Part of that problem is because a brand is made of so many components that it needs to be considered very broadly.

In an article for Forbes titled “Your Brand Isn’t What You Think It Is,” author Ty Kiisel points out that most people don’t truly understand what a brand is. Kiisel writes: “I think most people would agree (although there are still some holdouts), your brand is not your logo or your colors. Of course the colors you choose and the way you present your name to the world is considered part of your brand, but it’s not the most important part. Your brand isn’t what you say you are either.” This is true … but what is your brand? (more…)

Social Media: Not Just For Sales; Another Area of Big Value

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

Social media is a powerful marketing tool for any business. Business and marketing professionals are particularly drawn to the extensive reach of social media and its potential for driving droves of new customers through their virtual doors. However—and this may surprise you—social media marketers shouldn’t be focused exclusively on bringing in new business.

A recent article on the American Marketing Association (AMA) website by Lawrence Crosby looked at the effectiveness of social media marketing on another important measure of marketing success— (more…)

What the Olympic Committee and Entrepreneur Media Have in Common

Saturday, August 13th, 2016

Olympics, Olympic, Olympians, Olympic athlete, Olympic athletes, Rio, Rio de Janeiro, #Rio2016, #TeamUSAHow do you get so big, and so powerful, that you can tell other big and powerful organizations what they can and can’t say—and prohibit them from using very commonly used words and phrases? The Olympic Committee’s ban on non-sponsor brands ostensibly does just that as ESPN recently reported. They’re even banning non-sponsors from using the hashtags #Rio2016 and #TeamUSA. (Sheesh; hope I don’t get in trouble for that—I’m not an official sponsor, after all.) Those aren’t the only usages that are being banned though. According to a Mashable article, other banned words include “Rio” and “Rio de Janeiro.” Huh? (more…)

Developing Your Personal Brand – Yes, You Have One!

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

As someone who grew up in a family-owned business and then worked in the field of PR/corporate communications for a number of years I’ve long been well aware of how my actions, or inaction, impact not only my reputation, but the reputation of the organizations I serve. From the day long ago when my father chastised me for not returning a greeting from a classmate we ran into at a local department store to early training as a PR/media relations rep I’ve known that what I did — on or off the job — made an impression. While that knowledge, especially as a child, was sometimes burdensome, in hindsight it has served me well.

Some other early lessons: (more…)

The Big Benefits of Blogging

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

We’re a week into the New Year and, by now, you’ve likely started–or at least considered starting–to work on your New Year’s resolutions. How are you doing so far? Have you started the diet you planned on sticking to? Are you getting out of the old habits you were stuck in? Did you begin something new? From a business standpoint are you making progress on any resolutions that will lead to your desired level of success in 2013?

If not, you must know it’s never to late to start something new! And we have a suggestion for you. (more…)

To Discount or Not to Discount – the Potential Perils of Perks to Drive Social Media Engagement

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

I was interviewed recently for a blog on the use of perks to drive social media engagement. It’s an interesting topic and judging from the proliferation of such contests and competitions online an important one. Aside from questions related to the efficacy of such competitions, businesses should also be aware of–and knowledgeable about–the impact of these perks on their desired brand image and the laws related to contests, sweepstakes and lotteries.

(more…)