David Anthony Childs

Columnist

You're a perfectly fine company – so why don't I like you?

Why a customer's choice of products or services often comes down to what feels right – and how to tap into that

Have you ever had to choose between two products that were almost identical? What made you pick one over the other? Assume that a potential client has seen your advertising and is comparing you to one of your competitors. How can you tighten up your brand and company to ensure that they choose you?

Have you heard or said any of these statements?

  • "I have a feeling about these guys"
  • "Everything seems to be in order"
  • "This just feels right"

As a brand strategist, this is my business. This is not capturing an audience through advertising or marketing – rather it's creating a brand experience that inspires a particular feeling.

Imagine that every element of your company has a red X (bad) or green checkmark (good) on it: shop space, offices, website, letterhead, packaging, storekeeper, salesperson, car, watch, business card ... everything. Read the title of this article again, "You're a perfectly fine company – so why don't I like you?"

As a customer experiences your brand (website, advertising, store visit, staff interaction, etc.) those Xs and checkmarks will act like a subconscious scorecard. If you score below your competitor, you've lost a customer.

So what creates that positive or negative feeling about a company, product, service or person? Often it isn't the obvious, but a gut feeling. This is why I leave nothing to chance when detailing a client's company and brand. I don't want them to lose business after failing a "gut check" because of a minor item like cheap business card paper or a messy waiting room. Remember, every element of your brand contributes to the experience.

Here is what I would like you to do this month - be picky and critical about your brand. Don't cut any corners, but if there is something you can improve quickly - DO IT! A few places to start looking:

  • Website: Do you have "under construction" pages with cute animations of someone digging a hole? Delete them.
  • Print materials: Maybe you moved a year ago and corrected your address with stickers or white out? Print new ones and recycle the old.
  • Office: Get rid of the plastic plants!

Of course I have given business to companies with many red Xs on their scoresheet, but those companies don't often earn my loyalty. Just like finance is about money, branding is about feelings. So be a smart competitor - make your company "feel" like the right choice.

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