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Last Sunday, we went to a restaurant a friend had recommended. At the door, the guard asked us if we had a reservation. We didn’t and said that we wanted to check if they had a table. The guard refused to let us in and made snooty remarks about not letting in all and sundry.

Sure enough, we promised ourselves never to go back to the restaurant. It wasn’t the fact that we didn’t get a table there that put us off. It was the guard’s attitude and lack of courtesy that soured the experience.

As we left the building, we saw the logo next to the door. And that set us thinking.

Businesses often spend a lot of time and money building their logo and communication material as they are key aspects of their brand. The logo colours, brand values, brand personality – they’re all discussed and detailed out. However, they often don’t pay attention to the most critical aspect of the brand: the experience.

Why focus on the experience?

The experience makes the brand’s abstract values and promises such as ‘honesty’, ‘dignity’ or ‘customer-service’ more tangible. It turns thought into action.

Imagine that you order furniture from a store, which promises exceptional customer service in its advertisements. But you go through a highly complicated and irritating delivery process to receive the goods. What’s likely to be your strongest memory of the brand – the lines from the ad or your sense of irritation?

Not just for customers

Many businesses focus only on the ‘customer experience’ and make that positive. However, businesses that truly understand the idea of a brand extend this experience to all stakeholders, including employees and service partners. They understand that a brand’s beliefs and values need to reflect in all that it says or does, and not just shine through its communication.

Now imagine you are a service partner waiting to receive payment from a big business house for services already rendered. You send multiple reminders, follow up with different departments for weeks, deal with condescension and finally get only a part of the due amount as the business house decides that your work merits just this. Would you buy it if they spoke of ethical behaviour as a core organisational value?

It could be signing a sales contract or making a payment, actions do speak louder than words. And every action adds up to build a truly successful ‘brand’.

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