#BrandingTip 4628. Your logo is not your brand.
This should have probably been my first branding tip but hey, I’m a Graphic Designer at heart and I love all things design so that’s what I mostly discuss. Even though I love design, it’s imperative that I inform people that, your brand is every experience, positive or negative, that people have when dealing with you or your company. Your brand is what they say about you when you’re not around, what we call “word of mouth”. Before the logos, websites, etc as well as after the logos, websites, etc your brand is either working for you or against you.
About a month ago my lady and I stopped at a food spot (it’s not a restaurant, but just a spot, and I won’t be giving the name) to get dinner. We were both hungry, had been working all day and had neglected to eat anything more than breakfast. This spot is Black owned so we decided to give it a try. Well it was delicious! But about 20 minutes after eating, it made us both terribly sick. We vowed that we wouldn’t be going back there and we moved on. No social media bashing, no word of mouth bashing, no contact with the owners, we never gave it another thought and just moved on with our lives.
Fast forward to last week. In a group about Black Owned Businesses someone posted about this same food spot. At first I just scrolled past, it had nothing to do with me. But it kept popping up and I saw that many, many people I knew personally saying they were gonna check it out and many more stating that they loved the food. There were many, many comments about people’s great experiences with the food. Thinking of how I would feel if I got sick off of something and someone I knew had also gotten sick from the same source but hadn’t warned me, I decided to post a comment about my experience. I said that the food was delicious and that in no was I trying to stop anyone from trying it, but that it had made us sick. The first response to my post was a woman saying “maybe you could give them another try and have a different menu item”, to which my response was, probably not, but thanks. The next response was “you should’ve found a different way of letting them know this, not in a public comment, if it was a white company you wouldn’t be doing this”. My response to this comment was that the responder was probably right but that I saw too many people I know and love potentially about to have my same experience, I couldn’t sit back and just watch that. And had it been a white company, my experience would’ve been blasted on all three business social media accounts as well as all three personal social media accounts to all 12k of my total followers, so the very cliché point she was making was just not true. She said ok, to each his own, do what you feel is necessary, and she left it alone…for a few minutes. Until the owner stepped in.
The owner of the food spot decided to comment. Now let me preface her part of the story by saying that I totally understand that for business owners, our business is our baby, we gotta protect it in all ways. But if your child has done something wrong at school and you go to the school in a bonnet and slippers being loud and obnoxious, you’re hurting that child way more than you’re helping and while you may not be able to see that, the others students, the teachers, your child, and everyone else who experienced it does see it.
Her response to my comment was that the devil in me wouldn’t allow me to see all the positive responses so I had to make a negative one. She proceeded to state that her food doesn’t respond well to haters and people with evil souls. She went on and on about me just wanting to hurt her business and that I’m just an evil person with nothing better to do than to hate on her. Her food has never made anyone sick and it was clearly something else that we had eaten that day. The other lady who had just told me to do what I feel is necessary decided to chime in once again. They had a 15 comment conversation about my evilness and how I’m just a hater trying to bring down a Black owned business. They joked about how she doesn’t need to beg anyone to be a customer.
My response wasn’t what either of them expected. Rather than going back and forth with them or posting negative responses, I discussed her brand. I told her that even if my comment was just to be a hater (it wasn’t, I don’t even know her, what reason do I have to hate on her), the way she responded to me hurt her brand far more than one “negative” comment in a sea of positive comments. That my comment may have turned one out of ten people away from her business, but her neck rolling, name calling response to a customer who had spent money with her and had a bad experience probably turned away 2 more of the ten. I explained that I had enjoyed the food but I had a bad experience with it and she just gave me a second bad experience. That the first comment from the lady who told me to try something different was a much better response and that because of that comment I was giving thought to coming back to do just that. But now, after a second bad experience, I’m never coming back (I still won’t bash her). I discussed how people’s experience is what makes them come back. You can have the best product in the world and serve it on a gold platter but if it makes the customer sick, there’s bad customer service, or a bad response to a customer, it will negate the golden platter and it makes the customer think twice about returning. I told her that I hope the business does well but I also hope that she learns a lesson in branding here and changes her response tactics.
She contacted the admin and had my comment and the entire response conversation deleted. Apparently in this group only positive comments will be tolerated, no matter what experience you have had. Cool, now I know.
I hope this story illustrates how a logo is just a small part of branding and that customer experience is a much larger part in how your brand will move forward. The logos do marketing may attract first time customers and make you rememberable for returning customers, but the experience they have, the stories they hear, and the social media interactions they view will build or destroy your brand.