Why Focusing On The Bad Is Good For Branding

I walked in to Starbucks for my morning coffee the other day, and after a few seconds of reading the menu I decided on getting a Tall Pike (Medium Roast).

Chris: Hiya! I’d like a Tall Pike, please.

Barista: Pike…? Mm, ok, and that’s the medium size, right?

Chris: (“Medium”…?) Uh, the Tall, please.

Barista: Oh, right. Tall. Here you go – oh, this is a Grande – don’t worry! I only filled it up with a Tall amount.

This little exchange wasn’t a big deal, so I chuckled and shrugged it off. But I couldn’t help but think – how could a Starbucks employee refer to their own drink as a “medium” size? Even if they misunderstood, shouldn’t they have corrected me with “Grande?” That’s really off-brand.

Everything Counts In Marketing

It’s really difficult to be on-brand 100% of the time, and the more touchpoints you have with the customer the harder it is to remain consistent. We’re all people, and people make mistakes. It happens. It’s usually not a big deal. Your loyal customers are mostly willing to give you a second chance. Mostly.

Plan with the worst in mind – because that’s when your plan counts the most. #KeepItCool Click To Tweet

The power of Branding works both ways – the stronger your brand, the stronger your relationship with the customer. But when you break your brand image, the impact will be *that* much stronger with an established brand. Customers are twice as likely to share bad experiences than good experiences, and seeing as it’s 6-7 times more expensive to gain a new customer than keep an existing one, it’s fair to say that keeping an eye on your unhappy loyalists is just as, if not more, important than recognizing the happy ones.

Good Marketing Isn’t Just Marketing

A lot of marketing plans focus purely on the growth of the business, reaching new markets, improving reach, conversion, all that good stuff. But you’d be missing out on a major revenue stream if you skip over the customer retention portion of your business. Yes, that includes Customer Service and Public Relations (which, actually, isn’t separate from Marketing at all!)

Branding is the core of Marketing, and creating a brand book is one of the first steps we recommend to a business that wants to grow. What’s included in the brand book is how the brand reacts to different scenarios. What kind of voice do they have? What would they say?

We’re all prepared to talk about how good we are, but how prepared are you when facing bad situations? It’s foolish to assume that 100% of your customers will be satisfied – what’s important is how you address the issue. Own up to it. Fix it. Make it better. Don’t just say that “the customer is #1” – prove it.

Here are four steps to do just that:

  1. Create your brand book (refer to our branding checklist)  – make sure everything is clear and consistent
  2. Live your brand values every day – branding isn’t helpful if it doesn’t come off as genuine.
  3. Create a contingency plan – some people aren’t going to like your product. Some people will complain. What do you do?
  4. Review your brand book monthly – an excellent brand is flexible, held down only by its core values. What’s working? What isn’t? Be honest.

The beauty of creating a brand book is that it can be both strategic (i.e. “how will my brand grow my business?”) and reactive (i.e. “do I respond to this customer in a professional way? A joking way? What words do I use? When is this appropriate?”). If you want an example – check out how Facebook responded to the long-running complaint of a lack of a dislike button.

I urge you to refer to your brand book when dealing with difficult scenarios because that’s an opportunity for your brand values to really shine. Check out our green paper below to download a branding checklist that’ll help you create your brand book. Or, contact our marketing agency on Robson, in the heart of Vancouver! We’d love to chat about how to grow your brand. We always have chocolate.