What’s on your branding playlist?

Adventive Marketing

If you don’t know me, I’m a bit of a music junkie. On occasion, I’ve even been accused of being a snob about it. If you’ve ever seen the movie High Fidelity, my wife says I fall somewhere between the characters played by John Cusack and Jack Black. ( I like to think I’m more like the quiet, geeky guy played by Todd Louiso.)

Last weekend, my wife and I took our kids out to dinner at a little Italian place we stumbled upon down in the city. We had never seen or heard of it before, but we saw a Chicago cop eating at an outdoor table and figured that was a good sign. The place had a nice, comfortable feel to it. Our waitress was pleasant and attentive, and the food turned out to be pretty good. Despite all that, I’ll never go back.

The place wasn’t playing any music. None! How in the heck do you run an Italian restaurant and not have some good music playing in the background? Frank, Dino, Vic Damone, Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin —this isn’t a tough playlist to put together, and doing so can mean the difference between having a great dining experience and simply eating out. A small detail, I admit. But regardless of what business you’re in, aren’t the subtle differences between you and the competition what really define your brand? If you can choose between two Mexican restaurants that both serve great food and mix a good margarita, do you want the place that has Britney Spears and Carrie Underwood blasting over your table, or will you choose the place that plays an interesting mix of Lila Downs, Calexico, Ibrahim Ferrer, Sergio Mendes and Cal Tjader at a volume level that adds to the atmosphere without dominating it? You might not even be aware why, but I suspect you’ll choose the latter.

So, you make a great product and offer it at a competitive price. To one degree or another, your competitors do the same. Now what? What are the intangible things that define your brand? How does your Web site compare? Does it have superior content? Is it easy to navigate? Does it engage the customer? Is your packaging attractive and user-friendly? Do you offer strong technical support and customer service? Do you provide your sales team with support materials that present cohesive, unified messaging and a strong brand identity, or do your reps design their own PowerPoint presentations with images and logos they’ve grabbed off the internet? Do you nurture your prospects as they progress through their buying process, maintaining consistent contact and providing additional content and offers until they are ready to buy, or do you call them the day after they downloaded something and ask them what they want to order, dumping them from the sales funnel if they say they aren’t ready?

These are all things you need to consider when building your branding playlist. Marketing has more tools available than ever before, and it’s the effective integration of these tools that helps to define the intangibles that bring flavor to your brand. Doing so will build affinity with your customers and prospects. Not doing so will cause them to look elsewhere and leave you wondering why.

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