Startup business owners are consumed with the tasks of selecting a name, logo, business cards, and website.  “It’s all about the branding,” they say.  Well, yes and no.  Yes, it is all about the branding, but the marketing materials aren’t the places where your branding is revealed.  They convey the intended brand image, the constructed brand promise, but they aren’t the brand.  Your company’s real brand is in its delivery of products and delivery

What does your manner and method of delivery reveal about your brand?  Are you and your company known for:

  • Thoroughness
  • Speed
  • Done absolutely right the first time
  • Easy to do business with
  • Expensive for what you get
  • An outstanding value
  • Delivering quantifiable improvement in business results
  • Fun
  • Versatile
  • Rule-driven
  • On time, every time
  • Of the highest ethical standard
  • Catering to a narrow niche
  • Leading edge technologically
  • A connector to others
  • Dedicated to fulfill customer needs, both spoken and unspoken
  • Elegant packaging
  • Client comfort is number one

Your marketing collaterals don’t create your strategy – they should reflect your strategy.  The bullets above are possibilities that your business can choose to live into.  The descriptors – and look carefully because not all of them are desirable – create entire lists of activities and projects for you to develop and sustain them.

For instance, if you chose to deliver on time, every time, you have to know what “on time” means.  Does it mean that the customer gets a pizza delivered to the door in 30 minutes or less?  Does it mean that your manufacturing client won’t ever run out of raw goods that you supply, but it also won’t be overrun with raw goods delvered too soon? Does it mean that the meetings and planning sessions you run for them start and end on time, so they can schedule their days effectively?

Your clients and the prospective clients that they influence will judge your business based upon the difference between their expectations and your delivery. Be careful about what you promise, because your customers’ disappointment can’t be overcome by cool swag or an artsy logo.