The day you become a parent is the day a trip to Disney gets automatically added to the family bucket list. These days, it’s almost mandatory that every kid feels the “Magic” and parties once with Mickey, Goofy, and the rest of the gang. As a parent you stand zero chance of competing against one of the world’s strongest brands and the apparent guilt that goes with not taking the chickadees to the Magic Kingdom.
This might surprise you, but every company has a brand whether they know it or not. It’s not the tagline or logo that’s plastered all over your website and every piece of steel you own. Your brand is what your stakeholders think of the entire experience they have when dealing with your company. Your brand makes a promise to the world about the benefits and the value that your products have to offer. It’s the DNA that shapes your company’s personality.
The day you hang your shingle is the day you start building your unique character and culture. Ironically, in service industries like trucking more brands originate through the day-to-day actions of employees than are hatched in strategic planning sessions at the boss’s favourite resort. For as long as you have been in business, every “magic” moment in some way has contributed to what people think of you today.
Before you waste one plug nickel revamping your fancy-dancy five-colour logo, I suggest you dedicate some resources to getting a complete and thorough understanding of your company’s “Mickey Mouse,” the one thing that clearly identifies who you are. Because it’s important to understand who you are before you can begin to figure out who you want to be.
History is important
How has your company treated people in the past? If stakeholders have been consistently treated with integrity and respect, you’re likely well thought of and can build on your legacy. Conversely, if you don’t pay suppliers on time, ask employees to BS customers, and have a poor Dun and Brad score, you’re probably going to find that your DNA has 18 flat tires and your checkered past is impacting your bottom line. Be honest with yourself even if you don’t like the answers to the questions.
Brand is a bridge
Your brand is the bridge between your customers and your employees’ experience. Since 82% of customers stop doing business with a company because of bad experience with an employee,* it’s critical to understand what your employees think about their company.
Start the process by signing up for Survey Monkey (not a furry Disney character but a free online survey service). With all your competitors banging on their door, customers don’t have the time to fill in a survey to tell you that your Ferris wheel is turning in the right direction. Instead, ask your staff to be frank about their place of work. Your employees’ perception of your brand will mirror that of your customers.
One of the most effective ways to understand your current brand is to figure out where you rank among the elite fleets that play in your sandbox. A SWOT analysis will help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, the opportunities open to you, and the threats that should be keeping you up at night. It will also help you understand how you can distinguish yourself against the “best in the box” when it comes time to take your branding efforts to Phase 2.
Social media has taken some of the power out of the boardroom and given it to Joe Anybody. You no longer have total control of your brand or what people say about you.
The days of writing a complaint letter to the PR Department have gone the way of Morse Code –. 79% of customers now will tell others of their negative experience with Fred Grumpy. In 2012, when ex-employees are upset with the way they were dismissed, they fire up Facebook and rant to their heart’s content.
Even if your company isn’t tweeting away, you need to track what people say about your business on social media platforms. What’s being said about your company is an increasingly important part of its personality.
Creating a compelling strategy for your brand should only start once you fully understand who you are. Disney understands branding better than anyone. Maybe it’s time to take a cue from Uncle Walt and all those furry critters and figure out what’s your Mickey Mouse!
*Source Fifth P Solutions Inc.
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