Howard Schulz, founder of Starbucks, was once asked how he built one of the world’s largest brands with virtually no advertising. After all, brands usually become brand names by promoting themselves through massive and expensive media campaigns. Schultz’s response?  “Everything matters.” The key to Starbuck’s success is understanding that every brand touch point matters.

Essentially, he was saying that an organization makes an imprint with every contact a person has with that brand—whether the contact is with an ad or through an experience. If you know anything about the Starbucks experience, you understand that they leave very little to chance—from the store location, décor, signage and music to the Baristas working behind the counter, everything is intentional… and everything matters.

 

Start branding from the inside out.

As you begin to think about strengthening your brand, a good place to start is with the “brand inside.” Ask yourself and others within your organization these questions:

  • What does your signage, location or even reception area say about your organization?
  • When someone calls or stops by, how are they treated?
  • When volunteers or staff email, leave voice mails or answer the phone, how do they come across?
  • What kind of cars do your key contacts drive? How do they dress?
  • When you host a meeting of donors, volunteers, board members or community leaders, does your agenda say: We value your time and we have meaningful business to take care of, or do you get lost in minutia?
  • How do your volunteers/staff/leaders/board talk about your organization?
  • Do you look at everything you send out—direct mail, annual reports, email, Facebook and Twitter updates—as a chance to make a positive impression?

Positive, negative or unrealized. Which is worse?

Though it may seem counterintuitive, unrealized brand contacts are, often times, worse than negative contacts. That’s because a negative impression typically prompts a reaction or complaint and, thus, an opportunity to turn a negative impression into a positive one. However, unrealized contacts—impressions that go completely unnoticed—fail to advance your brand in any direction.

A top-level “brand experience” consultant I once worked with always asked his clients to pretend that they were a “club” that requires people to pay a membership fee. He then would ask:

  •  Why would people want to belong?
  • Why would they pay to get in?
  • How much would their membership be worth to them?
  • What would they say to get others to join?
  • Why would they renew their membership?

In short, he was saying the experiences people have with your brand must be managed intentionally so they continually bring value, or ROI. Supporters incur costs well beyond the dollars they contribute—their time, attention, and consideration are all valuable. So, make every contact count.

How about your organization—are you deliberately managing every brand contact? Let us, and others, know so we can be inspired to make everything matter and put ourselves in the best position to DO MORE GOOD.