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The concept of branding may be unfamiliar to small business owners or networkers, so let’s review a brand that we are all familiar with, The Gap. They recently unveiled a new logo. After the company proposed the new logo on its website on October 4, thousands of Facebook and Twitter users revolted. Websites sprung up with nasty comments about the design. My favorite, Crap Logo Yourself, lets people create their own icons in the style of the now-dead Gap logo.
“It reminds me of the old Microsoft Free Clip-art galleries,” one Facebook user wrote. “I can’t believe this is happening.”
Wow, that’s a very EMOTIONAL response!
This isn’t the first time that consumers have revolted. Remember the Tropicana repackaging or New Coke? Maybe not, they were both pulled quickly, but only after the companies spent MILLIONS on the new brand. The Gap logo only lasted a few days, thanks to social media.
While these examples are mostly about the look, what really had loyal customers upset is that they felt the businesses changed what they were all about. They had a comfort level that suddenly was removed. I would describe the Gap as traditional, clean, no nonsense. The new logo did not FEEL that way, so I was left wondering what else was changing.
In the case of big brands, this means big bucks. As a small business, why waste ANY money? When positioning your business for marketing or networking, you will be most successful when you can tap into the emotional reasons that people connect to your brand.
Change this scenario to one angry customer and just their own social network. Even something spreading to a small group of people can hurt a small business. The good side of this is that positive feedback on your company can also spread. If your business relies on referrals, amplify them by using your social networks.
Small businesses can benefit from setting up email lists for newsletters, a blog and social media networks. Having these in place will mean both positive and negative announcements can be pushed out to your audience.
“We’ve learned a lot in this process,” the company said in a press release. “And we are clear that we did not go about this in the right way. We recognize that we missed the opportunity to engage with the online community. This wasn’t the right project at the right time for crowdsourcing.”
While the Gap had social networks setup, ready to communicate, the tone they first used to address this situation was not what their audience wanted to hear. It was corporate-speak while the Gap is business casual. Your small business should communicate on the level of your customer. I’ve learned this lesson by toning down the tech-speak. Make sure your business is communicating on the same level as your customers.
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