Jill Brinsdon: Most powerful brands work from the inside of a firm out

By Jill Brinsdon

For well-established small businesses, expanding the team and wares can be a delicate task, says Jill Brinsdon.

A brand is the unique personality that sits over and above the product or service, says Brinsdon. Photo / Supplied
A brand is the unique personality that sits over and above the product or service, says Brinsdon. Photo / Supplied

How does a proprietor who is thought of as a business's expert add staff without putting off loyal customers?

It's imperative for business owners to know what their brand is, rather than just what their business is. What's the fantastic unique attitude that colours and separates everything from their competitors? Their offer, environment, behaviour and voice all impact on the brand experience for their customers.

They need to hire people who are already on-brand so all roads don't lead to them personally. The more every aspect of their business speaks of their unique brand attitude, the less the customer will rely on only them to deliver it.

Is part of it being clear about what the brand is?

Yes - people get very confused and think the brand is just the logo and ads. Maybe 10 years ago, 20 years ago, people believed what ads had to tell them, but now they're judging so much more.

The best, most successful and most powerful brands work from the inside out. Staff don't just know what they do, they know why they do it. You can spend a fortune on nifty logos and ads but if the brand experience doesn't deliver on the promise it's a massive waste of time and money. The customer won't remember the flash logo, but they will remember the dud experience.

A brand is the unique personality that sits over and above the product or service and imbues it with something more memorable and more meaningful to the customer than their competitors can.

What international examples are there of brands whose customers will follow whatever their next move or product is?

Apple is the easiest example. Because it has always pitched itself as a creative company all about innovation, not just as a computer company, it can easily travel into other devices.

That's because it's selling an attitude, it's selling a bigger world and belief system for its customers to be a part of and believe in.

If Dell or HP suddenly said,"Hey we do phones, we do MP3 players too", consumers would say, "Hold on a minute, I'm not buying a phone off a computer company, what do they know, because as far as I can see they stand for really reliable computers."

Perhaps what SMEs could take from this is to make sure their businesses stand for something beyond what they're actually selling. Define your why, your attitude, and infuse the entire brand experience with it. That way if you want to move into new areas, your brand equity can lead the way and give you permission to tell a new story.

The French Cafe has added a new area, the French Kitchen, for private parties and is putting a lot of resources into this. How does it communicate this change to loyal customers?

I imagine it has turned a lot of private bookings away in the past and has a great database. So I'd be surprised if it hasn't spread the news from the inside out, sharing with its inner circle verbally and via direct mail, then on its website and online newsletter, and also via PR in newspapers, design and foodie magazines. It's a private offering for bespoke occasions, so I'm sure it's been very careful to make it seem pretty special. One of those secrets that gets told one person at a time until everyone knows.

Jill Brinsdon is founder and brand coach at Radiation.

- NZ Herald

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