Today I received terrible service at a local venue for kids birthdays.  As I was being treated rudely by an overworked grumpy lady that probably wished she could go hug her kids it made me feel sad for the company.  They are a brand new company with a great product!  However, due to their lack of process, follow-up and customer service I missed out on my reservation I previously booked, left feeling unappreciated and probably will tell several people about my negative experience.   What did it cost the company that does this? What about the company that does this over and over? To put it simply… a lot more than it costs you to figure your brand out in the first place!

What does it mean to live your brand?

What is it?
Where does it live?
Where does it breed?
What does it do?
Why does it matter?

Anyone who follows me know I love strong brands.  I also believe the smallest business has an opportunity to build a VERY BIG BRAND.

I often think businesses of all sizes overlook the importance of brand.  They forget brand is not just your logo, your colors or your tagline.

Your brand is EVERYTHING about you.

Your BRAND is YOU!

-What you believe
-What you think
-What you feel
-How you want your customers to feel
-How you want your employees to feel on Friday night at 5 pm.
-What you want for your business
-What you want personally and professionally
-Why you want what you want

-What you do!

-How are you doing all the things above?
-Are you really putting the customer before $$?

-Do your employees feel your brand? Do they live it? Or do they go out with their friends Friday night and complain about their job, their customers and your brand?
-Your employees are usually a representation of management beliefs and actions.
-Are your employees the best advocates you have? They should be!

Are you thinking why do all these things talk about ME and MY BIZ? Well, that's the part most folks don't get.  They think they can just write a logo, draw a pretty picture, create a beautiful website, rock it out in social media and they're good to go…. sorry folks… doesn't work that way!

Your brand starts INSIDE.  What you believe, want, desire, wish for you and your customer is what you LIVE!  So… if you only wish for $$, then your actions are probably not exuding a positive experience and therefore brand for those who come in contact with your brand.  Chances are you are doing  just the opposite of creating $$, if that's all you focus on.

However, if you are focused on how you make your customer FEEL, what you want the culture of your company to be, how you want your employees to feel at 5:00 on Friday night and what you want your company to be when it grows up…. then chances are you probably have a pretty rockin' brand.

I know some really cool places, biz's and brands that  hardly have a logo, restaurants that have ripped seats and may even be a bit smelly… but… I keep going back.  Why? Because I like the way they make me FEEL.  They don't take me for granted.  They make me feel appreciated.  They acknowledge my presence even if they are running behind when I enter the door.  I will tolerate more from them.  I will tolerate inconsistency in food, over cooked steak, cold pasta and flat diet coke.  Why? Because they are LIVING their brand. Even brands aren't perfect.

So on this Friday night… think about how your brand is living.  How does it feel this Friday night??  If it's not feeling good… then start from the inside out this weekend and determine what your brand is.  Throw out your logo… it's what's inside your logo that matters!