Covering Your Brand’s Bases

With the arrival of baseball season, players and fans alike are emerging from a long winter slumber and, after a burst of spring training, are back to the basics of the game. Peanuts and crackerjack, the fundamentals of keeping score the old-fashioned way, hot corners, chin music, and the importance of covering your bases. Spring is also a good time for brands to get back to basics as well.

Surprisingly many of these baseball axioms apply to the business of branding. This is especially true when it comes to covering your brand’s bases. I was reminded of this recently on a visit to my local grocery store. A decent-sized chain, the store is big operation and at times can be hit or miss in the quality department.

On a recent jaunt through the produce aisle I was dismayed at the state of the onion bin. Every onion was rotten or on the verge of being so. After selecting the least rotten, I grumbled my way down the aisle for the next item on my list — potatoes. When I arrived there I found a new bin next to the standard fare. It contained a special new store brand with a one-to-one promise stating that a portion of sales would go to help plant community gardens. I left the same aisle of the same store with a very different brand sentiment than I had at the beginning of the aisle.

Okay. But what do onions and potatoes have to do with baseball much less your brand? This experience illustrates the importance of covering your brand’s bases.

Little things that support the community or a charity can seem secondary or off-brand but really they are anything but (you’ve no doubt been to meetings where narrow-minded bean counters shoot ideas like this down). All of the experiences individuals have with your brand are touch points that work together to create your overall brand in your customer’s mind. Your brand is not an isolated set of a few high profile things like logos and slogans. Rather, it’s a myriad of experiences. It can be ruined with a bad turn and righted with a good one as easily as bad onions and socially responsible potatoes.

Sound challenging? It is. And the bigger and more broad your brand’s focus, the more you need to enrich your experience with lots of little things that could be seen as trivial by some but ultimately become a part of your brand’s gestalt.

That’s why it’s important that Zappos’ customer service associates will stay with you on the phone as long as you need to resolve your issue. And why Warby Parker sends a pair of glasses to someone in need for each one you purchase. It’s also why it may be a good fit for your brand to be tied to a local youth center or little league team in your community. Your brand is much more than the widgets you make. It’s really what kind of organization you are. Can you be a good brand without these added dimensions? Sure but few great brands are simply two-dimensional. Be a brand that people want to be in business with.

At your next at-bat, what will you do to cover your brand’s bases? How are you doing so today?

Photo via Flickr user Zach Heller Photography