Donít Underestimate the Small Things
Whether we admit it or not, there are certain aspects of a brand that are much sexier than others. Developing a very engaging and interactive website is a lot of fun and cool to show off. Designing really cool package that will be seen every day can bring a lot of pride both to the one designing as well as the client.
But there is opportunity in all aspects of the customer’s experience of your brand. Tiny little opportunities that can be easily overlooked. Areas of that you’re not currently leveraging to tell your brand’s story.† Here are a few possible examples:
#1 Email Signatures
If you’ve seen the romantic flick “He’s Just Not That Into You”, you’ll know exactly how important the last words in a conversation are. And if you thought it was relevant in a bar, it has far greater import in a business conversation.
Your email signature is your business card when you’re not there to hand it over personally.
Look at it like this: saying “Sent from my Blackberry/iPhone” is pretty much an ad for RIM or Apple and conveys absolutely nothing about you, personally or otherwise. For what it’s worth, this is the mistake I’ve been making for a while now. Having a Blackberry or an iPhone isn’t special anymore. But you are, right?
If nothing else, make sure you include an email address in your signature. People having to track down email addresses that were stripped from the breadcrumb trail on a forwarded message. And that sucks. Having it in the signature saves one tons of time and ensures your problem gets dealt with faster. Or you getting business faster.
I personally use WiseStamp which is a browser-based plugin (currently supports Chrome, Firefox and Safari) which generates email signatures for you based on templates.† It has free and premium variants with the premium† version being…cheap. Like cheap-cheap.
#2 Telephone Etiquette
It’s tragic. We just don’t live in an age of deliberation and repose anymore. It is what it is.
The charm of a letter has long been replaced by the efficiency of a telephone. Unfortunately, the structure and etiquette associated with letter writing haven’t quite made the cross-over.
The essence of branding is: identity. So, identify yourself. Nothing screams amateur more than the lack of a branded greeting. If you start out your conversations with “Yeah” or “Go!”, there’s something very very very wrong with your medulla oblongata. Honest. Aunt Mavis would never have forgiven you if you picked up the phone in that fashion…neither will your client.
Conversations that are initiated while in a Japanese fish-market, for example, are also ill-advised. It’s just sensible to let the call go to voice-mail. No one really wants to hear how much you’re willing to pay for a slice of Fugu. Or the going rate for an escort on Friday night. Itís not rocket science Ė you will be judged based on anything you offer. Offer your best. Always.
#3 Voicemail Greetings
#4 The FAQ page on your website
#6 Handwritten Notes
The back of a business card
It isn’t the first branding touchpoint you can think of, right? Neither did Daniel Ocean from Ocean’s 11 who had one of the most beautiful looking business cards I’ve ever seen.
The pity is that most of us aren’t Daniel Ocean. He’s him and that’s why that card works for him. We need to bring EVERYTHING we have. And that probably includes the back of a visiting card.
While Dead Space is a an extremely popular videogame unless you use the back of your business card, that’s all it is…dead space.
Options for the back of your business card include a logo, a tagline, a QR code or pretty much whatever you ca n dream up. As long as it’s consistent with the overall identity, it’s a good extension.
We’ve made them. We’ve sat through them. We’ve even slept through them.
Presentations. What can’t be ignored…must be bettered. And branded!
Now if you’re going to get into a debate with me as to whether† the header or footer is better for branding purposes; don’t.
SEOMoz has put out an excellent resource at How to Create Presentations Like Rand | SEOmoz where they’ve shown what their fearless leader Rand Fishkin uses as a footer. Look at Point 3. He hasn’t even tried to infuse branding into the deck, it’s happened auto-magically. Truly inspired.
Like I† said, I’m not a branding guru and never will be. But I know that distinguishing yourself will make people remember you.
And that’s what matters.
#Thank You calls
At the end of the day, a single contract/project will probably not impact the life of your enterprise. But it won’t hurt you any to pick up the phone and thank the client/propect for letting you pitch.
Pitching is not a given, it’s a privilege. Just so I’m clear, interviewing is pitching too.
More than anything else, a personal thank you call means more from a real human voice instead of in a letter.† You still need to follow up the call with a quick thank you letter including a little reference to the conversation you had on the phone, but the phone call will make a huge difference.
Be grateful AND be thankful. Most agencies would consider this as binary. Don’t.
Try to think of one small thing you can improve upon today.† Most of these won’t cost you any money.
What did you think of?† How will you improve upon it?