"A brand is not what you say it is. It is not a logo, corporate identity or product; it is a gut feeling about a product, service or company. It takes a village to build a brand—customers, vendors, employees, partners, stockholders. When enough people have the same gut feeling, you have a brand" (The Brand Gap, Marty Neumeier).
Over the years, I have seen many small-business owners develop wonderful websites, brochures, and sales presentations that are very compelling. Their right-brain creativity, emotional appeal, and passionate conviction give me a very positive perception of their company. They successfully apply the age-old sales principle, "sell the sizzle, not the steak."
However, after enthusiastically buying into their proposition, I discover that their products and services are not all that I hoped for, or expected. Delivery is slow and customer service is lacking. At times, I have regretted making the purchase. Yes, they did a good job of selling the sizzle, but I am left wondering, "Where's the beef?" (old Wendy's Restaurant commercial)
Inside Reality vs. Outside Perception
The inside reality of these companies did not match up with the outside perception. They did not develop the left-brain attributes of order, attention to detail, quality, timeliness, and effective business systems that consistently meet or exceed customer expectations. They did not execute on their promise. They were "all show and no go!"
If the inside reality of your business—its systems and processes—is remarkable and the outside perception is weak or invisible, your company (brand) will not attract customers.
If, on the other hand, the outside perception of your business is remarkable and the inside reality—its systems and processes—is weak, your company (brand) will not retain customers.
Which is Holding You Back?
You must develop a company with equally strong left-brain and right-brain capabilities to create a brand that will endure and prosper.
When your customers, vendors, employees, partners and stakeholders say about your company, "they're even better than they look," you know you are on your way.