What is branding? A lot of folks mistakenly think that if you slap a logo on something, that you’ve branded yourself or your business. Throw up a website and dress in your company colors–BOOM! Branded! It couldn’t be further from the truth.
Every day, right around noon, Leslie Ciccone owner of Swah-rey, St. Petersburg’s premier dessert bar, has lunch with her staff. She makes sure they sit down, even for a few minutes, to enjoy their meal. This small, inexpensive gesture has large impact, whether they’re aware of it or not.
Upon entering Swah-rey, you’re greeted by sweet smell, inviting seating, beautiful art and decor, dreamy lighting, and a warm smiling face behind the counter. Don’t get me started on the desserts and coffee (their actual claim to fame)… Leslie has donated her mini cupcakes countless times to local organizations, she attends events outside of her own shop, and graciously offers her space to those that need a community meeting place.
Okay, okay, she’s an angel… What does this have to do with branding? Your brand goes beyond you slapping your name on something. Your brand is your promise to your customers to go above and beyond your competitors. Your brand is your commitment to your employees–your BRAND ambassadors. Your brand is the look, feel, smell, and embrace you offer the public. It’s a full sensory experience.
You may have thought through your product, your price points, and your packaging, but what feeling are you offering? Swah-rey delivers a belly-warming experience from their cushy chairs, the first sip of caramel latte, the last bite of creme brulee, and finally to the no-pressure billing experience. Though customers order at the counter, Swah-rey staff will bring your food to your table and they don’t expect payment until you’ve finished dining. They check on you throughout your meal, as you would a guest in your own home.
Sure you can require your employees to do all of these things because it’s “their job,” but the fact that Leslie shows her staff the same hospitality she expects from them is priceless. She offers the same continuous attention to detail in her own community–beyond her front door. Culture can’t be forced, but it can be demonstrated from the top down. How do you live your brand?