There is a great deal of misperception that surrounds the word branding today. Some confuse the idea of branding with the company logo. Some believe it’s the sign out front, the name on the vehicle or business card, the ad in the paper, the top panel on the corporate website, the clever tag line.
And those things can be important. But let’s face the music. The larger truth is, you can check every one of those boxes, but your brand’s image or tone will still be projected or significantly affected more by the way in which your employees and your facilities communicate your brand values on a daily basis.
This is true no matter whether you’re a regional healthcare facility or senior living center, a nationally branded hotel, a neighborhood restaurant, an automotive supplier or virtually any other enterprise you can name. For this reason, effective branding comes down to executing – that is, blocking and tackling – in the key areas where your brand interfaces with your customer.
Not Just Uniforms. Uniformity.
The key element of marketing and branding is not a flashy color scheme or a clever logo. It’s consistency. Consistent presentation is your customer’s assurance that the brand will deliver on the experience it promises, every time.
In fact, in a world where perception is reality, consistent presentation may be your best reason to employ a company look, or uniform. This can be a complete uniform or a less structured look such as a company polo shirt and hat with a standard directive on pants. The point is that, over time, the expectation of professionalism becomes a part of the customer experience.
Since uniformity is key, keep discrepancies to a minimum. Pants and shirts that are worn, frayed or faded aren’t just deviations. They’re actually off-brand. They send the message that your product or service tolerates variable standards. Using the same reasoning, make certain that uniform items are appropriately sized to the person wearing them. It may seem unfair, but when customers are judging your people, they’re actually judging you. Your uniform service company should help you guard against such violations of uniformity.
At Your Place, You’re In Every Selfie.
We could blame the Millennials, since they started the trend of taking and posting photos everywhere they go. But, while it’s known that the under-35 generation prefers purchasing experiences to products and services, that trend is trickling upward to the rest of the population.
For example, think of your experiences in a restaurant. Frequently you see them—they take pictures of family and friends and the food—then they upload these images instantly to social media. Of course, if you’re a savvy business owner, you recognize the opportunity to put your best face forward in the digital world.
Remember that logo and colors? In a media world where your corporate or retail environment is transmitted instantaneously to entire networks of potential customers, it is in your best interests to look sharp at any and all times. Make sure table linens and napkins look serviceable and crisp. Also, that your table set-ups reflect the brand image you want to convey, whether traditional or forward-trending. Again, your linen services company should ruthlessly weed out color and appearance inconsistencies.
The same rules go for hospitality and healthcare. Bed linens, sheets and pillowcases, towels, even branded or seasonal floor mats must be seen as opportunities to convey the consistency of a fully branded environment.
If It’s Private, It’s Probably Going Public.
No, we’re not talking stocks and IPOs. By now, you can guess what we mean. If whatever fits on a mobile phone screen can affect your brand, you might want to make sure that all of those other areas reflect well on your place of business. A good textile services partner can prove invaluable in this effort.
Conduct a review (audit, in brandspeak) of restrooms, stockrooms and other suspect areas. This isn’t about pre-emptive maintenance. This is about making certain that your branded experience delivers your message of professionalism in every area the public might see.
Here’s something else to consider. Branded experiences are multi-sensory endeavors. You might want to make sure your textile services company can deliver all the janitorial and air quality products you need. These can include towel dispensers, industrial and executive soap dispensers and room air fresheners. If your place of business is already equipped with these, they should be fully functional and look good at all times.
Of course, branding also extends to whatever promotional items you and your marketing team desire – coffee cups, travel mugs, corporate apparel, whatever. But it doesn’t start there. The real magic of branding is taking care of the details that communicate a consistent branded experience day in and day out.