How Do You Build a Real Brand?

What do Harley Davidson, Yeti, Nike, Apple, and Jack Daniels have in common?

These brands are all larger than life. And they have a huge group of Enthusiastic Brand Ambassadors who love their brand. The company doesn’t pay people to wear their brand. Their customers pay them for that opportunity! Those are enthusiastic brand ambassadors. There is incredible power in having that type of brand.

So, now that you have started to gain customers intentionally, how do you start to build Enthusiasm for your company? How do you build a real brand?

Let’s start with the foundation.

Step 1: Fulfill your promise.

If you don’t do what you said you would do…you are dead on arrival. You have to deliver. Say what you will do…and do what you say. It’s basic…and it’s foundational. If you don’t do this…you are done.

This is one of those moments when everyone nods and says, “Yeah…I know that.” And I am sure you do. But then why, as customers, are we so often disappointed? It’s because even though we know we are supposed to live up to our promises, we don’t always do it. So, if you want to build a brand that lasts, you have to start there.

Step 2: GLUE

A friend of mine named Stan Phelps talks about this concept in his book called The Purple Goldfish.  It helps you create a brand “that sticks.”

It’s an acronym that stands for Give Little Unexpected Extras.

Now that you have delivered on your base promise, it’s time to level up the experience. When you take just a little extra care of your customers, they stand up and take notice. The bad news is, we hear all of the time about the lack of customer service in the business world. The good news is, that means it’s easy to stand out!

Let’s break it down.

Give: Provide some extra value. Do just a bit more than advertised or promised. When you do,

you surprise and delight your customers in a wonderful way.

Little: Great news…it doesn’t have to cost a lot! It can be an extra sticker in the box. Maybe it’s one extra item for free. Maybe it’s an extra special email response that makes them laugh.

Unexpected: It shouldn’t be every time. If it’s an every time occurrence then the customer will come to expect it. Just occasionally…make them smile.

Extra: As we said, find a little way to do just a little bit more. A little bit more can mean a lot.

The fact is, when you add GLUE into your marketing, you give people a reason to talk about you in a great way.

Step 3: Own Your Mistakes.

No matter how hard we try, we will all screw up sometimes. None of us are infallible, as a person and as a brand. When that happens (not if), own it and fix it. Don’t play the blame game.

Again, I know this sounds like a no-brainer. But it’s not. We all want to fight the urge to be blamed for mistakes. But the sooner we lean into the mistake, the faster we can fix it. And problems that are fixed quickly and respectfully turn haters into enthusiastic ambassadors.

As I tell my team, “Remember, everyone looks good when everything goes right. When things go wrong, we have a real opportunity to shine.”

Appreciation Marketing

Now that you have the foundation set, it’s time to supercharge your opportunity to create real Enthusiasm around your brand. Showing real appreciation to your customers is a pretty easy thing…but so few companies really do it. As a matter of fact, check out this statistic.

69% of customers that leave you, will do so because of perceived indifference.

Think about that! Nearly 7 in 10 customers will leave because they don’t know if you care. So, gratitude and appreciation are superpowers in business. I find myself singing Billy Joel as I type this and urge you to “Tell Them About it!”

And while it’s important to show appreciation for every customer and every order, your bigger customers might mean even a little bit more.

You see, most businesses follow Pareto’s Rule when it comes to revenue. That’s the 80/20 rule. It means that 80% of your revenue likely comes from around 20% of your customers. If one of those 20% leaves you, it can be a big blow to your bottom line. So, it’s even more important for you to make sure you show those customers real appreciation.

Quarterly Appreciation Program

The fact is, we all get busy. So even though we want to show gratitude, the whirlwind of life can often get in the way. That is why I recommend creating a quarterly appreciation program to really make sure your 20% is recognized regularly.

How does it work? It’s pretty simple.

First, decide the budget. How much can you spend on each client per year? Remember, this is one of your best clients. Consider this your marketing budget for reaching them. The fact is, we all spend a lot of money on new client acquisition (and we should). But maintaining our current (and best) clients is often just as important, and creates a higher margin!

Now that you have that number, simply divide by 4. This establishes your quarterly budget. Now, choose a piece of branded merchandise that fits in the budget for each quarter.

Why a piece of branded merch? First, because it lasts. You want your top clients to see this item and remember you (and your appreciation) every time they use it. And second, because this is how you start to build a tribe of raving fans. You want this group carrying these cool items and repping your brand…everywhere they go.

Now that you have the items selected, make sure they are ordered to be delivered a couple of weeks before the beginning of each quarter (or when you want to ship them or deliver them). This will give you time to work that into your schedule, so they are delivered in a timely fashion.

Then, just like in sales, the fortune is in the follow-up. Follow up with this top 20% with a call and just let them know how much you appreciate them. This personal touch will push this idea over the edge.

These are the steps to taking your brand to the next level and creating Enthusiasm for your organization.

Want to dig deeper into this? I cover it in my new book Hit The TARGET.  Head to to sign up for the video course today. We will email you a short video for each letter in the TARGET marketing framework in order to help you level up your marketing faster.

Written by: Kirby Hasseman

Kirby Hasseman is the CEO of Hasseman Marketing & Communications. Kirby hosts a weekly Web show called Delivering Marketing Joy where he interviews business leaders from around the country. Kirby has published four books. His most recent is “Fan of Happy.” His book, called "Delivering Marketing Joy" is about doing “promo right” and is perfect for people in the industry and customers. He also wrote “Think Big For Small Business” and “Give Your Way to Success. All are available on Amazon.