May 2, 2013 by Rebecca Prescott
I think about Starbucks a lot.
I can’t tell you that it’s only because I love their coffee. It’s not that simple.
I’m in love with the Starbucks brand, and the experience that comes with. Everything about the brand gets high praise from me: Packaging, merchandising, service standards, customer-rewards programs, human resources policies, their use of music, philanthropic endeavors and yes, even the coffee itself.
My friends might call it an obsession. But my love for the Starbucks brand has helped in my career; it’s helped me understand how a company can use its brand to cultivate and maintain customer loyalty. And Starbucks, like other companies that I respect, does it by offering an experience.
This blog kicks off a series of posts that I’ll be providing in the next few months about the importance of developing your brand. I’ll be talking about taking a brand inventory; developing a strategy; ways to increase recognition; and how to promote your brand.
But before we move on, let’s talk about the word itself.
There are thousands of definitions of the word brand. Here’s one that I particularly like from Alina Wheeler’s “Designing Brand Identity” (Second edition, 2006):
“The brand is the promise, the big idea, and the expectations that reside in each customer’s mind about a product, service or company.”
I’m particularly fascinated with the word “promise.” A promise sets the stage for a customer in their decision-making process. If they like and trust your brand, they’ll make a purchase. If they don’t, they’ll buy from someone else. And in my little corner of the universe, it’s the experience that keeps me coming back.
Here’s a scenario to consider: I’m standing on the corner of a major metropolitan city and have the choice of Starbucks and another coffee shop in the same square-mile area. I’ll walk to the Starbucks every time. Why? I know that when I walk out, they will have done their best to meet my needs. I know that if my drink doesn’t taste right, they’ll make another one no questions asked. It will be familiar and comfortable.
They have hooked me to the point where if I’m pressed to make a decision on how to spend money on coffee, I’ll choose Starbucks.
This can apply to financial professionals. You may not be a billion dollar coffee empire, but your brand can contribute to your failures and successes.
In the next installment of this series, I’ll take you through some steps to take a solid inventory of your current brand, and then set you free to do the same.