How good branding runs deeper than graphics and typography


Have you seen what Amazon is doing for Goodwill?

You take an old Amazon box, fill it with items you want to donate to Goodwill, print out a label via the Amazon website, slap it on the box, and take your donation to the post office for mailing to the charity.

This is a convenience for folks who don’t live near a Goodwill outlet and it also saves you from breaking down the cardboard box and having it take up space in your recycling.

There’s one more thing it does: It builds Amazon’s brand image.

We tend to consider branding in terms of logos, fonts, colors, social media posts, taglines, marketing, and advertising, but it really goes much further: You need to think about your public image.

To broaden your vision of branding and improve it overall, consider these areas.

Community and professional outreach. This includes programs like the one Amazon is doing with Goodwill, but it also includes traditional networking. The simple question to ask yourself is: “How involved am I in my community and professional organizations?”

Your participation with these associations will help build and define your brand. You will gather a reputation and be known by it. When you’re the president of a chapter for a professional organization, that gets noticed. It gets reported in the press. You can hang the plaque on your wall. When you sponsor a pee-wee football team, or a float in the local parade, it gets noticed.

I encourage you to put these activities on your website as well. When people click to your “About Us” page, they want to get a personal feeling for who you are and what your company stands for. These kinds of involvements are ideal for that purpose.

The “face” and tone of your company. Do you train everyone on your team in the manner you want them to deal with the public and vendors? How many times does the phone have to ring before someone picks it up? Is the greeting always consistent and pleasant?

How about your email correspondence? Is it professional, well laid out, grammatically correct with no spelling errors? People pick up on these things and they all are pieces of the puzzle that make up the image of your brand.

Your facilities. If you’re a local business, what is the feeling people get when they walk through your door? Is it pleasant? Excuse me for asking, but how does it smell? You need to keep your premises tidy and organized. Failing to do so sends a bad message to everyone who visits your location and that message will inform their image of your brand.

This also includes the deportment of your employees. They need to be regarded as professional, trustworthy, authoritative, pleasant, approachable, and more depending on your specific enterprise. If a prospect walks into your business and finds disinterested employees, that will mar your brand.

Everything I’ve talked about here starts with you. If you don’t set the tone and the example in these important real-life branding areas, you have no right to expect more from your employees. In fact, you should expect them to detract from your branding.

Further, as you demonstrate exemplary habits in these areas, train your team, and put systems in place to make sure that you’re able to maintain – and even improve on – your high standards.