But what happens when their created branding image differs from what they are actually projecting? What effect does a business owner’s employees have in promoting the brand or taking away from it?
A short errand-running trip around Kelowna recently got me thinking about how branding works, for better or for worse.
I was following a large truck delivering a load of compost to an eager local gardener. On the back of the truck was a vividly coloured advertisement proclaiming the value of ‘Nature’s Gold.’ The product was all natural and guaranteed to make everything grow wonderfully. There was actually quite a bit of marketing copy on the truck. As I was driving and in care and custody of my vehicle, my attention was to my driving and navigating one of our busy streets rather than reading the promotional copy word for word.
As far as branding effectiveness goes, it was. As a gardener it caught my attention. Lots of colour. Text to grab my attention. As I was following the truck I was thinking about my garden and how I wouldn’t mind if a load of Nature’s Gold was dropped off at my house as a gift. Then the unexpected happened. The delivery truck spewed out a large cloud of black smoke, and I do mean large! A cloud of uncombusted hydrocarbons descended upon all the vehicles in the delivery truck’s vicinity.
Hmmmm …. Nature’s Gold and smog. All that marketing money spent to promote a business’ brand up in smoke! (pun intended). This isn’t an isolated event as I have noticed the truck or perhaps another one around town spewing black death. Perhaps Mother Nature would recommend a regular tune-up for delivery trucks.
Moments later a small blue pick-up truck made a questionable u-turn, budging his way into traffic going the opposite direction to where he was originally going, quickly followed by several back and forth lane changes. On the back of his truck was the proclamation that he was your local roofer of choice. I have no way of knowing whether he was the business owner or an employee. Hmmmm. I’m thinking that he wouldn’t be my first choice. If he was that reckless while if traffic, what would he be like on my roof? I’m not sure if my home insurance would cover bungee-jumping roofers.
Branding tip … if you have your name, business name and/or contact info on your vehicle, behave! Follow the rules of the road like the rest of us. Okay, some of us!
Barely around the corner another branding faux pas presented itself. I was travelling down the road at an acceptable speed. A brightly yellow-coloured local taxi driver felt that he could break the scientific law that two objects can’t be in the same place at the exact same time. A mere few feet away from me he shot across the road, necessitating me to slam on my brakes. To show my affection I honked my horn of course. An older white-haired driver responded equally as friendly my giving me his index finger.
Now I look at every yellow cab to see if Mr. Friendly is driving. Would I use or recommend that particular cab company? Certainly not for a while. The company has spent money on promoting their bright yellow image. Are they responsible for the behaviour of their drivers?
A few blocks away another branding exercise presented itself but with a different twist.
As I was approaching a busy intersection a large 18 wheeler, ‘semi’ as some would call it, turned the corner a little too wide. The tractor portion was up on the centre island and the truck looked to be in a perilous situation. I couldn’t help myself but my initial thought was “hey look at this bonehead!”
As I watched the situation unfold, I noticed the branding on the side of the trailer declaring that this was likely driven by a Student Driver, being trained by a professional driver. After a series of corrective moves the driver was able to extricate himself from the island and carry on his way. The branding message wasn’t wasted on me. A student driver was learning how to drive safely by a professional. Mistakes happen when you are learning. That’s often a quick way to learn how to do something. I was grateful that in the near future there would be a properly trained truck driver that had learned an important lesson.
Would I have been so understanding if the semi was any other company i.e. a business truck? In this case the branding worked for them. They were walking their talk.
Perhaps that is the basis of business branding: walk your talk and talk your walk!
Something to think about …
Top photo credit via CC Mark Smiciklas