great brands sweat the small stuff
Great brands may think big, but they sweat the small stuff. They know that all the little things they do or fail to do in person shape brand perceptions far more than the big things they claim through mass media. So they design their customer experiences down to last detail, and usually appeal to as many of the five human senses as possible, since they know those experiences are so much more impactful, distinctive, and memorable than any advertising or marketing program they could run.
I chose this poster design because I wanted to point out the importance of a detail like flooring. The kind of flooring in your store, restaurant, attraction, trade show exhibit, etc. can make a big impression on your customers. (A colleague of mine, CB Whittemore, used to write a terrific blog called Flooring the Customer on this very topic!) Steve Jobs obsessed over the flooring in the Apple stores — insisting on replacing the light wood with a gray-blue sandstone imported from a family-owned quarry near Florence, Italy, even though it cost 10 times more than an alternative that a more “reasonable” person would have accepted.
Sweating the small stuff means caring about details like flooring, as well as lighting, wayfinding signs, display materials, uniforms, smells in the bathroom, door handles, carry-out bags, receipts… Everything communicates. Every touchpoint matters.
The tools I introduce in Chapter 5 of my new book, What Great Brands Do are intended to help you design extraordinary brand experiences. You can download templates and worksheets for the Brand Touchpoint Wheel and Customer Experience Architecture here.
Speaking of my book, we’re two weeks into the launch and there’s all sorts of great content for you to check out about it:
- Great Brands Never Have to ‘Give Back’ — my latest HBR Blog column
- How Some Brands Become Great — San Diego Union Tribune interview
- Great Brands Put Culture First — BusinessWeek columnist and Power Branding author Steve McKee write-up
- Power to the Small Business — Jay Ehret pocast interview
- The Secret Sauce of Employee Recruiting and Engagement — part 3 of my guest post series on The Keva Dine Agency blog