By Katrina Olson
Last week, we talked about the Office Depot brand. Until its recent merger with Office Max, the company’s branding message was “taking care of business.” Back in 1992, they even ran a commercial featuring the song by Bachman Turner Overdrive. (Video below.)
In 2001, Office depot replaced “Taking Care of Business” with “”What you need, what you need to know.” What?
Then in 2005, they returned to “Taking Care of Business” because research showed the new tagline didn’t resonate with customers. D’ya think?
Since the merger between Office Depot and OfficeMax last year, they’ve been using the tagline, “Gear Up for Great,” accompanied by both logos. This may just be a temporary advertising slogan. But then, why do store employees (sometimes) answer the phone by saying, “Office Depot, this is Susie. How can I help you take care of business today?”
Clearly there’s some confusion, both internally and externally, about their brand message.
To save yourself from the same fate, follow these guidelines when developing and communicating your brand.
Do your homework.
Find out how customers currently perceive your company. Fix anything internal that needs fixing to change or support perceptions. Rebrand if necessary. To read about how Taco Bell recently modified their brand, click here.
Create a persona for your brand.
Are you approachable and friendly, businesslike and professional, helpful and accommodating? Define the character attributes that describe your brand and reflect that voice of that persona in all communication, especially social media. For good examples of this, check out Taco Bell’s or Groupon’s Twitter account.
Develop visual branding standards.
Use the same logo, font, color scheme, and type of imagery to reflect a specific look and feel—in all of your advertising, marketing materials, and sales literature. That doesn’t mean all your ads will look the same; that would be boring. However, customers should easily be able to identify the ads as yours.
Share your brand image widely, internally and externally.
Use your logo everywhere—not just on your business cards, envelopes, letterhead, and website—but on your bills, statements, email signature, shirts, jackets, trucks, notepads, pencils, pens, presentation binders, iPad cases. Put it anywhere customers and employees will see it.
Write and liberally use a tagline.
Choose ONE tagline and use it consistently across all platforms and media including your ads, recruiting materials, trade show displays, sales materials…everything. Make it clear, concise, memorable, meaningful, and reflective of your personality and brand essence.
Be faithful to your brand identity, personality, messaging and promise.
Fail to keep your brand promise, and customers will get angry and not come back. Only 4% of customers who have a bad experience will tell you about it; 96% will not say anything and 91% will never return, says a study called “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner. And according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, a dissatisfied customer will tell twice as many people about a bad experience as they will a good one.
Use the brand consistently.
You will get bored with your logo, tagline, color scheme, etc. long before your customers do. Avis Car Rentals used the “We try harder” tagline for 50 years before replacing it with “It’s your space” in 2012.
Here’s the good news: if you develop a strong brand and back it up with superior performance, 3 in 5 Americans will try a new brand for a better service experience, according to a 2011 American Express Survey. The same survey revealed that 7 in 10 Americans are willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent service. Another 2010 study by Harris Interactive/RightNow revealed 9 out of 10 Americans would pay more for superior customer service.
So, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Whatever you are, be a good one.” Create your brand personality and image, communicate it with words and images, and support it with performance. Then, promote the heck out of it.
You have to go all in, because 80% won’t cut it in today’s competitive environment. And those who don’t commit 100% to their brand will be left behind.
Olson is a veteran marketing and public relations consultant. She has written for tED magazine’s print edition since 2005, judged tED magazine’s Best of the Best Competition since 2006, and emceed the Best of the Best Awards ceremony for a total of seven years. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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