People buy from people

'People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.'

By Claire Sim
  • 20 July 2017
  • Reading time: 5 minutes
People buy from people

Branding has been with us for a long time – the term comes from the Old Norse word ‘brandr’, which means ‘to burn’. For almost as long as people have had possessions, they have branded them to prove ownership; from burning a basic mark on to cattle to stamping the dinner service with the family’s coat of arms.  

Branding as we think about it in business terms emerged alongside the manufacturing era. It was often about quality; if you wanted a tasty, safe beverage you reached for a Coca-Cola (and didn’t get food poisoning), if you wanted to buy silver you checked for the hallmark (and didn’t get cheated). Interestingly, even in their infancy, brands embraced story-telling, often linked to provenance – think cotton from Manchester or tweed from Harris.

As we moved into the service age branding became big business, with organisations investing millions in getting it right. At the same time, brands became less about product and more about the whole experience: from how the packaging looks and feels to the way employees talk on the phone. The brands we chose became more than choices based on convenience and cost. They became statements about us as individuals, as anyone who has ever owned a teenager knows.   

Getting your brand right means thinking about every time and every way you touch your customers. It means getting your products and services right, through developing a deep understanding of what your customers want from you – after all, there’s no point building a Ferrari if they only want a Ford.

Brands are fragile things, as Gerald Ratner and more recently United Airlines have shown (Google  ‘passenger thrown...’ and see where you end up). When good brands go wrong it’s often because we forget that they are also about people. Your brand will ultimately fail without the backing and support of your employees, who are your brand’s best – and potentially worst – ambassadors. If everyone in your organisation understands and believes in your brand, they will naturally communicate its qualities and attributes, and make on-brand decisions.

"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel". Maya Angelou.

Ultimately, even in today’s digital world, people buy from people. As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Making your people the building blocks of your brand will make your customers feel good. And that’s got to be good for business.

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