What is your company’s brand experience?

One of the definitions of “brand” is what people experience when they touch a company, whether it is through its website, at a tradeshow, with a sales or service person, or via any other point of contact.

For many of us, the first time we heard the term “touch points” was when we read about Starbucks’ success in any one of dozens of branding books where they were revered as the poster company of branding. In the case of Starbucks, it isn’t, wasn’t, or ever will be about the coffee. It will always be about each customer’s experience at every brand touch point.

If you haven’t thought about your brand’s touch points for a while, review the list below and take a few minutes to reflect on how each is impacting the relationships you have with your customers in the pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase stages of the sales cycle.

  • Your website: When did you last update its appearance, improve the value and relevance of its content, and simplify its navigation?
  • How your phone is answered: How competent is the person answering calls and how eager s/he is to bend over backwards to help the person on the other end of the line?
  • Email signatures: Is your logo a grainy, pixelated, low-resolution image? Do you and your people include links to their LinkedIn profiles or relevant content on your website?
  • The person greeting customers at the front door: What is their appearance, body language and attitude? Do they offer your guests a beverage?
  • Your lobby/offices/shop floor/space: How visually appealing are these areas?
  • Your brand essence statement: Is it in plain view for everyone to see?
  • Signage: Where is it? How large is it?
  • Service calls: What kind of attitude and body language does your service technician exhibit and how is the appearance of the vehicle s/he is driving? A clean and newer vehicle looks a lot better than an old and rusty work truck in desperate need of repair.
  • Employees: How do they present themselves? When customers are getting a tour of your office and shop floor, are employees smiling and friendly? Or are they stone-faced and cold?
  • Answering phone calls and emails: How long are customers required to stay on hold before talking to a living, breathing human being? How long does it take to respond to an email or return a phone call?
  • Trade shows: Is your booth message and graphic design current? Is it scratched or marked? Is your space clean and professional? Is everything about it approachable? Are the people manning the booth staring at their iPhones? (Sadly, this is so very common, and it sends a very clear message: Don’t disturb me while I’m on Facebook.)
  • You should also consider other areas such as: follow-up service phone calls, service reminders, cross-selling experiences, videos, social media presence, accuracy and professionalism of LinkedIn profiles, print collateral, stationery, invoices, late-payment notices, etc.

When running your business every day, you may not give a lot of thought to your brand’s touch points — but your customers are. Their collective experiences will shape the perceptions they have about your brand, and whether or not they will do business with you again. This is why I believe that every company needs a brand manager, because the difference between a sale and no sale is influenced by brand perception and experience.