Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 14, Issue No. 1
By Dan Coughlin
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The way your customers and prospective customers think about your organization’s brand affects their emotions. Those emotions largely determine whether they want to buy your products and services or not.
Do they think your organization provides great value or is outrageously expensive? It’s not about price. It’s about perceived value.
Do they think your customer service is extraordinary or pitiful? Do they think your organization will go the extra mile for them or try to cut corners?
Do they think your products and services are reliable and trustworthy or incredibly inconsistent?
Do they think the buying experience is a wonderful experience or a painful one?
Their thoughts affect their emotions, and those emotions affect whether or not they want to buy from you.
You basically already know all of this. The part that is not so obvious is the way you think about your organization affects your emotions and those emotions carry over and affect the creation and delivery of your organization’s products and services. Ultimately, the way you think about your organization impacts not only your emotions and behaviors, but also the way that your customers and prospective customers view your organization, which is your brand.
Your brand is the value customers think they receive when they buy from your organization. It is also the value prospective customers think they will receive if they do buy from your organization.
How Energy Spreads Throughout an Organization
Imagine you have a cold, and you sneeze on people. A lot.
It won’t take long until another person starts sneezing, coughing, and having a runny nose. And then another person. And another. Pretty soon you have a critical mass of people with a cold.
Imagine you start working out and you clearly have better energy.
It won’t take long until another person decides to start working out. And then another person. And another. Pretty soon you have a critical mass of people who are working out.
Imagine you take the time to compliment another person at a meeting.
It won’t take long until another person compliments someone else. And then another person. And another person. Pretty soon you have a critical mass of people complimenting one another for great performances.
None of these scenarios seem particularly outrageous. It is how behaviors generally change in an organization. The energy, positive or negative, from one person spreads to another and then another until eventually the energy spreads to a critical mass.
How Attitudes Affect Brands
Now imagine another scenario. You think the quality of your organization’s products and services is really poor. You feel disgusted about what is put out into the marketplace. You’re angry at people you work with for making such shoddy stuff. You’re very pessimistic about the future of your business. These attitudes carry over into your meetings. You laugh about the lofty promises made in your company’s advertising. You get one other person to see things your way. And then that person convinces one other person. This continues until there is a critical mass of people inside of your company who talk sarcastically about the organization and its products and services. They are worried about the future of the company and doubtful that it will last. The internal performance suffers until customers start to notice.
Or imagine you are extremely proud of your company. You use and love the products and services it sells. You go into meetings optimistic and excited about the innovations from your organization that are consistently being rolled out into the marketplace. You want to play a role in helping the company to continue its run of greatness. Your attitude rubs off on one other person. You stay later to work together to help deliver incredible service. The attitude spreads to a critical mass of employees. The group pushes itself to raise the bar on what the organization can consistently deliver to its customers, and those customers start to talk about how much better the products and services have become.
Neither of those scenarios is fictitious. I have seen both of them multiple times. It didn’t matter what the organization was saying to its customers in terms of marketing efforts. The attitudes I witnessed inside of these organizations eventually worked their way out into the public. Companies that were down became successful and companies that were successful went down. The trend largely started inside the organization.
Building Your Organization’s Brand from the Inside-Out
There are two ways to build a brand.
The first is from the outside in. That’s where you focus on positioning the value of the organization in your customer’s mind and your prospective customer’s mind as being really extraordinary. You want your customer and your prospect to see your organization as the number one choice for the specific value that you are offering. All of your marketing and operations efforts that help to strengthen your brand from the outside-in are tremendously important in order to generate sustainable profitable growth.
The second way to strengthen your organization’s brand is from the inside out. Any person in your organization can affect your brand. Either through thinking in a way that develops positive emotions (optimism, confidence, excitement, hopefulness) about your products and services or in a way that develops negative emotions (fear, worry, frustration, pessimism) about your products and services. Depending on the person’s ability to influence how other people think, those emotions can be picked up by others and spread until they have a significant impact on your organization’s brand, which is the way your customers and prospective customers view your organization.
I encourage you to take seriously the impact you have on your organization’s brand and the impact that any person in your organization can have on the brand. Your organization’s brand exists outside of your company and inside the minds of your customers and prospective customers. However, any person in your company can ultimately impact the way the brand is viewed by people outside of it. Focus on being a positive influence that affects not only your emotions but also the emotions of the people you work with so that people throughout your organization are making decisions that strengthen your organization’s brand.
The way you think about your organization will ultimately affect how others view it.
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