Is Your Brand Relational?

Logos are important. Websites are critical. Consistent, clear, and timely communication is key. This is your brand, and every organization has one. Some brands are clear, others are vague. Some brands we recognize instantly, others don't even register. So what makes your brand distinct? Of course, brand consistency is of upmost importance. You must know your identity and portray your brand without compromise. But once you have done this, how do you rise above the noise, stand out and get noticed.

First, a story...

Recently, I was having problems with my new computer. I had several choices for repair: Apple retail or one of two independent Apple specialists' shops located near my house. Because of my past experiences with Apple retail, I chose to give them the first shot. I conveniently scheduled my appointment on-line and arrived five minutes early for my appointment. I was informed that the support team was running about 30 minutes behind, so I looked for a quiet place to sit down and get some work done. (If you have ever been in an Apple store around the holidays, you know this is no small feat.) Once I met with the support team, they were able to quickly diagnose the issue and offer a solution. The logic board would need to be replaced and they would need my computer for three to seven days. New logic board: OK. Part in stock: Great. Computer gone for up to a week: Not an option. After much discussion about how I couldn't go that long without my primary work computer, I was informed that was my only option if I wanted Apple retail to help. I left frustrated.

Next, I visited the independent Apple specialist nearest to my house. I explained my exact situation, but again was told the best-case scenario would put me without my computer for one and half days. Again, I pleaded my case, but was nicely told they had systems and processes in place that just couldn't be adjusted.

In a last ditch effort, I called the independent Apple specialist, Macrobatix, mostly expecting to hear the same thing. Oh, how wrong I was. It was refreshing to find someone interested in my story and willing to bend their process to meet a need.

So how does Macrobatix, a small independent Apple specialist shop, differentiate their brand? Sure, they invested the time and money to develop a logo, website, retail space, and communication strategy that is clear and concise. Yet, the market is flooded with choices. Apple retail, big box electronic stores, and other independent Apple specialist stores are all vying for the same business. Bob, the owner of Macrobatix, made several choices that set his brand apart from the rest:

Listen to the need.

Bob took the time to hear what my issues were. He allowed me to express all my concerns about being without my computer for even just 1.5 days. Because he understood how important the right tools were to a small business, he was able to empathize.

Get to the know the person behind the need.

Bob seemed genuinely interested in who I was, and how he could help. He was able to see beyond the immediate need and find ways to build a relationship.

Say Yes, Whenever Possible.

Bob recognized the need was not a new part in a computer, but rather, to be without a computer for as little time as possible. All the other shops I visited were happy to replace the part, but that wasn't the need. Bob bent traditional practice or process to meet the real need. He said yes, when all I had heard was no.

In short, Bob and the Macrobatix team diagnosed the issue late one evening (took 15 minutes) and ordered the part. Then they allowed me to keep my computer while we waited for the part to arrive. Once it arrived, he called me and gave me an exact time when a technician would be able to begin the replacement. I brought in my computer and was back to work on my repaired machine in less than two hours. Apple retail: 3 to 7 days. Other Apple specialist: 1.5 days, at best. Macrobatix: 2 hours. Who do you think earned a customer?

Organizations today must be more that just transactional, they have to be relational. Brands come alive by experience, not just expression. Mission statements are for living out. Find the need you are meant to meet, and then do all you can to meet it better than everyone else around you.