Brand Entropy

Entropy is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. It is the tendency for systems to move from states of order to states of disorder.  Line up all of the toys on a child’s shelf, and soon they will end up scattered all over the floor.  Clean up your to-do list, and by the end of the week you will need to re-organize yourself.  It’s easy to see why entropy is so powerful when you consider that the ordered state is only one of millions of possibilities for the system; disorder is much more probable than order.

Entropy can dilute your customer experience, if you do not have a strong brand essence that acts as a glue to hold together all of the elements of the experience.  The reason for this is simple – there are thousands of different ways a particular customer interaction can happen, but only a few of these possibilities will reinforce your brand story and add to the sense of Brand Harmony that your customers perceive.

Consider a very simple example.  You own a athletic shoe store, and you believe that you can differentiate your store by asking a customer to describe his personal exercise habits, and the aches and pains he gets from exercise, in order to find the perfect pair of shoes to fit his needs.  Your website and in-store signage describe this brand promise, and you, personally, deliver this promise when you wait on customers.  Now, think about what happens when another employee serves a customer. The “right” ways to interact with a customer make up only an infinitesimal portion of the possible ways to interact with a customer.  So, if this employee doesn’t have a strong sense of your brand promise, and doesn’t feel the essence of the brand in her bones, it is highly likely that she will not support the brand when she interacts with customer.  The result:  It is more likely that a customer interaction will dilute your brand promise than it is likely that it will support your brand promise.  Brand entropy is more likely than brand reinforcement.

If you want a strong brand, you need to be one of the (few) companies who define their brand essence with great richness and detail, and ensure that everyone who works in the company understands the promise, with equal richness and detail.  This takes a lot of effort, but, then again, entropy is one of the most powerful forces in the universe.

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Brand Harmony
5 comments on “Brand Entropy
  1. Dan Gunter says:

    Excellent points you’re making here Steve. As I began reading the first few sentences, one of those dreaded “Okay, but…” thoughts crossed my mind. But you appear to have seen it coming and addressed it. What I’m referring to is the fact that some people would stop with your initial words and make the grave error of trying to create customer “encounters” by trying use too many specific, forumulaic customer responses.

    I’ve heard the description of a great business as being comprised of the “four F’s:”

    * Fast
    * Focused
    * Flexible
    * Friendly

    What you so well describe is being “focused,” particularly where a particular “way” of doing things is concerned (i.e., helping find just the right pair of shoes for each customer.) But you must also be flexible enough to realize that some customers will have different needs and personalities, meaning you have to be “flexible” enough to treat them as the unique customer they are.

    All too often, in the name of being “fast” and “focused,” customer service people get indoctrinated into ways that *seem* to be most efficient, completely killing and chances of being “flexible” and “friendly” to the customers.

  2. leonghw says:

    “..who define their brand essence with great richness and detail..”
    i agree.
    the fastest way to dilute a brand is to promise to be everything to everybody.

    strong brands have their unique messages.
    some are known for the low prices, others stand for luxury, still some are based on superb customer service.

    also like you said, the brand’s promise must be clearly defined. fast means focused efficiency yet flexible and friendly. fast doesn’t mean shoddy work. just pushing products out there. it has to be clearly defined.

    brands with strong promise that’s clearly defined are easier for the customers to understand and employees to follow. remarkable brands always have these qualities.

    rgs
    leonghw

  3. Eliot says:

    But Steve, How is brand different from mission statement in this example? or are they one in the same?

  4. Dan and Leonghw get at a key challenge: Have a strong brand essence, but be flexible enough to adapt it to an individual customer’s needs and situation. This is very much like jazz; if you know the underlying chords, melody and form of the song, you can improvise over the tune and it’s in harmony. Scripting is the “fart in church” (excuse me for that metaphor) of customer service, just as it would be in improvised jazz.

    Eliot’s question is a good one. Answer: It could be a mission statement, but I tend to avoid the term because the mission statement process has, for many companies, become watered down, formulaic and generic. “Exceed expectations,” “Treat our customers and employees with respect,”serve our markets,” etc., are the fodder of many mission statements that could have been created from those word magnet sets you play with on your refrigerator. Oh, and I didn’t mention the next steps after you write your mission statement: You frame it in your lobby, give your employees wallet cards imprinted with it, and then … you forget about it! So, a good mission statement can be based on a good brand essence, but a mission statement that is not based on a clear, compelling, differentiating brand essence is not worth having.

  5. Andrea Keating says:

    Mr. Yastrow,

    Just finished reading Brand Harmony! Brand Harmony was informative, interesting, and well-written. I think you make strong points on how to make a successful (and lasting) brand…certainly a perspective I agree with. This book will without a doubt be a key resource as I go into my Masters in Commerce at UVA this Fall!

    THANKS!

    Andrea

Leave a Reply

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

*

Subscribe to the Blog
Email:  

On Steve's Mind
Get Steve's newsletter featuring his ideas and practical advice delivered to your email inbox.
* = required field
Latest Tweets
Testimonials
Alex von Bidder
In these high pressure times of bite-size communications we all hunger to be listened to and cared for individually. Our customers know great hospitality, the kind that is not about selling but treating their needs as our highest priority. Steve Yastrow’s teachings are applicable to any business that values long-standing success based on personal relationships.

Alex von Bidder

Managing Partner, The Four Seasons Restaurant, New York
roma-maxwell
Rancho La Puerta has enjoyed continued success because of the work we did with Yastrow and Company. Together, we implemented business strategies that have contributed to our success. Steve and his team truly believe in our brand, and our experience with them was empowering, fun and a great learning opportunity. I highly recommend Yastrow and Company to any business that needs help building the bottom line

Roma Maxwell

Roma Maxwell, Director of Sales and Marketing, Rancho La Puerta
Chris Tucker
Steve is a creative and collaborative speaker who communicates his ideas clearly and concisely. He immediately understood our business needs and provided a better perspective on how our customers see us as a company. I have referred Steve to our customers in the past and I will continue to do so. He’s intuitive and has a unique way of looking at business. Steve has the experience to turn a project into something extremely valuable for any organization. I strongly recommend working with Yastrow and Company.

Chris Tucker

Director of Business Development, MBX Systems
Kathleen Phillips
Not only is Steve's content sound, but the energy he displays in delivering it will knock your socks off.

Kathleen Phillips

Ernst & Young, Chicago, IL
Jennifer Whelan
“Steve’s workshops helped bring out what is best at Acuative. His insights were fresh and long-lasting—we continue to use his tools and approach years later.”

Jennifer Whelan

Vice President of Marketing, Acuative
jim-evans
Yastrow and Company introduced Brand Harmony and their Be the Brand concept to our team at Jenny Craig.  I believe these new ideas contributed in helping us triple the company's revenue during my years as CEO.

Jim Evans

former President and CEO, Jenny Craig
roma-maxwell
I give Steve two thumbs up—five thumbs up, if I had that many!

Roma Maxwell

Roma Maxwell, Director of Sales and Marketing, Rancho La Puerta
Mike Depatie
Steve Yastrow is at the forefront of the next evolution in marketing. We have implemented many of his innovative ideas... and have seen very positive results.

Mike Depatie

CEO, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants
Marc Allen
We are absolutely better off after engaging Yastrow and Company. They helped us look at our business from our clients’ perspective, resulting in a cultural shift throughout our organization. These changes have made a big impact - we’ve gained new clients and strengthened relationships with existing clients. The investment was well worth it.

Marc Allen

Vice President of Sales, AMD Industries
Tom Peters
When Steve Yastrow writes, I pay close attention.

Tom Peters

Founder, Tom Peters Company
Ward Alles
Steve Yastrow knows his stuff. That's why our management team has read all of his books. And that's why we've had him as a keynote speaker at both client and employee events. From creating brand alignment, to selling more effectively, to providing top-notch customer service, Steve offers words of wisdom based on real-life experiences. He always engages his audiences with questions, interactive exercises and great storytelling that keep you coming back for more. Read Steve's books. Then book Steve. You'll be glad you did.

Ward Alles

CEO, Core Creative
Ditch the Pitch is a great read-- interesting, fun, and easy to follow. And I’ve already seen the concepts work. Just yesterday, I called a client and had a conversation that was 95% about the client, as the book suggests. At the end of the call, he sent a new matter my way. I ditched the pitch and it resulted in new business.

Attorney

Chicago, IL
jim-winter
Steve put together a program that produced spectacular results, and the quality of our communication and customer satisfaction is vastly improved. I’ve been in business for 40 years, and Steve’s the first consultant that I’ve gotten my money’s worth from. We’re going to continue to work with Steve and the bright, energetic people that are on his team.

Jim Winter

COO, Dimension Design
Craig Dwight
Steve’s approach to integrating all customer contacts into a comprehensive marketing message is a must in today’s information age. We have partnered with Steve to develop our integrated and comprehensive marketing message, and as a result of his excellent work, his new book is required reading for all of our employees.

Craig Dwight

Chairman & CEO, Horizon Bancorp
american-licorice-logo
We have seen huge benefits from Steve's input. Steve is unlike any other consultant I've ever worked with. He takes a genuine, deep-seated interest in our business. He is intuitive and able to identify problem issues quickly. We wouldn't be as far along in acheiving of our long-term growth strategy if we hadn't actively and aggressively pursued Steve's Brand Harmony.

Michael MacDonald

Executive VP Sales and Marketing, American Licorice Co.
Alex von Bidder
Steve Yastrow's teachings are applicable to any business that values long-standing success based on personal relationships.

Alex von Bidder

Managing Partner, The Four Seasons Restaurant, New York
roma-maxwell
Rancho La Puerta has enjoyed continued success because of the work we did with Yastrow and Company. Together, we implemented business strategies that have contributed to our success. Steve and his team truly believe in our brand. I highly recommend Yastrow and Company to any business that needs help building the bottom line.

Roma Maxwell

Director of Sales and Marketing, Rancho La Puerta
Doug Ducey
In one morning, Steve re-energized the way we look at marketing. The only question we had at the end of the session was, ‘When can we get him back?'

Doug Ducey

CEO & Chairman, Cold Stone Creamery, Governor of Arizona
Jennifer Whelan
Our work with Yastrow and Company yielded the best long-term value of any consulting engagement we’ve ever had. As we grow and expand internationally, Acuative continues to depend on the branding approach and marketing tools Steve and his team developed. Yastrow and Company genuinely partnered with us, were exceptionally responsive and remain committed to our success.

Jennifer Whelan

Vice President of Marketing, Acuative
David Sank
I highly recommend Yastrow and Company to any business that is intent on enhancing their customer experience. Prior to working with Steve, we were communicating various messages to customers. Steve and his team helped us achieve a cohesive brand message that we as a company live daily. Steve is an incredible listener and learned the nuances of our business rapidly. I can’t imagine anyone Yastrow and Company couldn’t help.

David Sank

President and CEO, Calico Cottage
Rhoda Olsen
Steve Yastrow has clearly described the emotional reality of customer relationships and their impact on profitable business growth.

Rhoda Olsen

President, Great Clips for Hair
Chris Miller
I rarely book speakers more than once. But I’ve used Steve four times! Steve has our association’s interest at heart and works tirelessly to deliver customized programs. He always ranks highly with our affiliates because he is outcome-focused, fast-paced and highly engaging. Anyone looking for insight and understanding into marketing, branding and sales should book Steve!

Chris Miller

Executive Director, Professional Systems Network International