More important than an image that comes to mind when one thinks of McDonalds, Nike, or Coke, is the gut feeling they get. This gut feeling is powerful because people first make decisions with there gut and then justify them their mind. When enough people come to the same gut feeling about your company, product, or service you have achieved "brand".
The same principle for large popular brands apply to small businesses—the cumulative effect of customer interactions with the company, product, or service results in brand.
These interactions are known as touch points and can include your store or place of business, company vehicles, uniforms or clothes, packaging, print materials, human interactions with customer service or salespeople, online experiences, YouTube videos, photos, reviews, word-of-mouth social discussion, advertising, and more.
Some of these touch points you control directly but others you only have indirect influence over. You don't control what your customer tells their best friend but you can certainly influence it by delivering an experience that expresses your company's values and delivers on your brand promise.
Creating brand doesn't have to be expensive. Here are some tips to get going in the right direction:
A simple way to check how you are doing is to ask you customers at the end of every face to face or online interaction to write down the first three words that come to mind when they think about there experience today. Let them know it is anonymous and to be as honest as possible. Make it easy for them. Always have pen and paper, or a quick online form that the customer can fill out at the end of each in person or online interaction. Give a random thank you gift, or discount that they could use on their next visit for filling out the form. Alternatively just ask and jot the words down yourself.
For a simple analysis, sort these words into 3 categories:
Add up the numbers in each category and create percentages from them. Plot the numbers on a graph and look for trends. Also plot on the graph any changes to the way you deliver you experiences and look for correlations to how they affect the gut feeling of your customers.
The simple act of asking your customers this questions tells them that they are important and that you care about what they think. This too affects their gut feeling about you.
Leave a comment and let me know what you think about this, have you had success with similar efforts, do you have ideas on how to improve on this?