Branding in a Cyber World: Get on Board!

We'll be the first to admit that branding is fascinating. Lately we've read a lot in the news about branding for businesses, especially with the changes that Starbucks has made to its logo and product offerings. How many times has Starbucks made a slight change in its logo through the years, even changing the colors a bit? The symbol of the siren has only changed slightly, making it recognizable throughout the world. Today, we read that Starbucks is now allowing customers to buy their beverages and products by using their gift cards with an app on their smart phones. Although Starbucks is even starting to offer wine and beer at some locations (believe it!), it seems that the main branding trademark of Starbucks has not changed at all. The company still plays on an emotional connection with its customers. Holding that cup of coffee makes us feel cozy and warm in the winter, while shopping with a latte in your hand makes you feel like the chic shopper that you are. How can a single cup of coffee that you might be able to brew yourself at home make you feel that way? It's the branding logic of Starbucks, and it's not going anywhere for a while!

So, now that Starbucks has jumped on board with the new app feature for purchasing their products, why not the rest of us? Sure, we market translation, interpreting and language instruction for a living. But how can we reach more people through this cyber world and still relay our personal brand to our customers? Everyone loves (or needs) coffee, but not everyone needs a document translated to get themselves through the day. Our take on it is the way you treat your clients. We try to be as ethical as possible in dealing with our clients. We try to get them a translated document back early, if we're able. The other side of the coin is not actually the services you render, it's the way you treat the people who are your customers.

Again, we reference Starbucks. And no, they aren't paying us to promote their business. They just have it down. For the most part, they have friendly baristas who make beverages in a timely manner. They have light music playing and soft couches and easy chairs for you to sit and relax or work. They have outlets throughout the store for you to plug in your laptop or cell phone. You can spend endless hours with friends chatting away or working on your computer (especially now with their recently free Wi-Fi connection). Then, if you need a refill, just take your cup back and get one within a few minutes. Instant gratification and little work involved.

So, making your customers feel like they don't have to work that hard to get the quality service they need will keep them coming back. We recently had a customer who emailed us on the weekend to add something to his translated document. It could have waited until Monday, but he had a meeting with his boss the following week, and we knew he needed it. We took a few minutes to take care of the changes he requested, and as easy as hitting the "Send" button, he was a happier client.

We took a personal branding test once, and most of the people who responded (clients and friends) said that we are easy to work with and efficient. So, find out what your personal attributes are and run with them! Use the cyber world as a tool in helping you to continue using them to the best of your ability. If it's simply the way you talk to and treat your clients, what better way than in your emails to them? Make sure they know how much they matter to you.

Use the cyber world to your advantage. Obviously, that's the way things are going these days.