Michael Eisner, the former head of Walt Disney, famously said that a brand is the product of a thousand small gestures, an intriguing statement because it appears to run against perceived wisdom! Most people who spend any time considering how to make their brand or someone else’s brand successful are likely to believe that you need to do something big. For those of us who work in communications, the big idea is almost a matter of holy writ! We believe that big ideas make a statement and put brands on the map, few would disagree with this line of reasoning. Nonetheless, it needs to be seen in context for it would be dangerous to think of big ideas as the be all and end all of brand building, to conclude that brands are built on a chain of big ideas!
To avoid falling into this trap, it is helpful to think about brands as relationships. As we all know, these need to be both built and maintained. A big gesture now and again may certainly be appreciated but too many and they will be taken for granted, losing their effectiveness. More important is doing the little things right on a day to day basis, year in and year out! Neglect these at your peril, years of good work may be undone. To succeed a brand needs to be not only consistent and coherent but also considerate, to be seen as caring for its customers.
As you plan to make or keep a brand successful, think of big ideas but don’t leave it there. Instead, on a daily basis, also think of the small things you can do to show your customers that you appreciate them. These will build and build, so that over the long term they become the very glue that holds the brand together. In branding, as in relationships, little things mean a lot!