Serving up a Strong Brand

The Power of Branding

I used to play volleyball in high school, and I’ll never forget how my coach taught me to strengthen my overhead serve. It was a simple tactic:

Follow through.

He used to say that if I stopped swinging my arm once it hit the ball, then the power behind it would stop, too. If I kept my arm swinging, even after that initial contact, even after the ball was no longer in my hands, the energy I used in that swing would transfer more powerfully into the serve.

Serving up a Strong Brand

In branding, the follow-through is important because getting the ball in the air isn’t enough. It needs to have enough power that it lands in the right place.

A couple of weeks ago I bought a theme for my new mom blog. It was supposed to be an easy to customize theme, with endless opportunities to get creative with it. The company did a great job with their branding in this case: their copy clearly explained the ease of using the theme, it placed heavy emphasis on the forums and tutorials in case I had any questions, and they gave off a friendly, very creative and extremely helpful attitude. They used words that highlighted that the user would be “in control” and that the theme was “flexible” enough to give customers the results they wanted. Best of all, they offered a money back guarantee.

Up In the Air

Since this theme sounded sounded like everything I needed, I gladly paid the fee and started playing around with it. Score 1 for their branding, right?

Not so fast. Deduct a point for the fact that I didn’t find the product very easy to use at all. But maybe that was just my fault, right? Maybe all the answers I was looking for could be found in the tutorials and forums like they said they would be. So I looked, and found the whole section to be overwhelming, difficult to navigate, and not as resourceful as they’d promised. Basically, they were back to zero.

After several days of trying to figure this out, and realizing that maybe their product wasn’t a good fit for me, I tried requesting my money back. Nowhere on the site did they explain how one would go about doing this, so finally I used their contact form and requested it. (So much for easy to use, right?)

The next day I got an email saying that they’d received my request, but had I tried their forums yet? Had I browsed their tutorials and asked the community? If after doing this, I still wanted my refund, they could process it, they said.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t waste time asking for something unless I know I want it. I don’t spend 10-15 minutes on someone’s website trying to figure out how to request a refund if I haven’t entirely made up my mind about the decision.

So I kindly responded that yes, I’d done all these things, and while I thought their product seemed like a great option for someone with different needs and experiences, it wasn’t a good fit for me.

Minutes later, I got a response with one line:

We will process your refund

No, “Thanks for trying our product.” No, “Sure, that won’t be a problem.” Not even a period at the end of that sentence.

If my perception of them had been shaky before, with that one line it completely crashed. The whole friendly, helpful, and flexible image of them as a company vanished.

If this had been a volleyball serve, it would’ve landed on the wrong side of the court with a big thud. They had been happy to try and charm me up until the point I bought their product, but after, there was absolutely no follow-through. The customer experience didn’t live up to the hype.

The lesson? Don’t build a brand if you’re not prepared to make it a reality. Don’t get the ball in the air if you don’t have enough strength in the swing to get it over the net.

What are the steps you take to ensure your brand is consistently strong from start to finish?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *