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You Do Not Choose Your Brand. Your Customers Do

April 30, 2015

You Do Not Choose Your Brand. Your Customers Do

My smartphone died. Well, I was irresponsible by letting the battery run down completely, and any subsequent efforts to charge the battery failed. The phone was working flawlessly right up to the point that it shut down. Even the “genius” at the walk-in customer service desk couldn’t, or wouldn’t, revive it. And that’s the problem.

This little 2 year old phone has served me well. It was everything I needed in a smartphone. But the geniuses’ projected attitude toward me and the phone was more like “you need a better phone” than “what can I do to fix this for you?” He told me the phone had internal damage due to water infiltrating the phone. I knew better. He told me a new battery “probably” would not help, so he wouldn’t try. Then he told me all the ways I could purchase a new, upgraded phone. Basically, my phone was outdated and worthless anyway.

I walked out disgusted. I completed an online feedback survey later that day. When I was invited on the survey to give live feedback to the actual store, my attempts to do so were met with recorded options that did not fit my need or intentions. While I was waiting for a live representative, I was subjected to more recorded messages about all the new products I should buy. Eventually I got a recorded message that said the line was dropped and I’d have to call back later.

This company has had numerous campaigns in its 3 decade old existence. You know, like “Think Different.” Yes, now I understand. Whenever I hit a little bump in the road with my current device, I should “Think Different,” as in “Get a different phone, because your current version is a dinosaur.”

My son, Ryan, always thinks different. He gets every new device from this company the day each is released. He laughed when I told him my story, as if to say “Yeah, and did you drive your Model T Ford to the store when you went to get your old phone looked at?”

Anyway, what’s the point I’m making? As I’ve thought about my experience, I began to give more consideration to the idea of branding. The conventional wisdom is that a company should work hard to create and market its brand. Write mission statements and have strategy sessions to figure out the best ways to portray your brand to your consumer public. Push your brand. Microbrand your brand.

I do my best thinking while mowing the grass. As I was mowing yesterday and fuming about my phone, this realization struck me. It doesn’t matter what an organization tells me about their brand, or their mission, or their latest campaign. What matters is what I, their customer, think about them as I do business with them. In this respect, an organization does not create their brand. The important branding occurs in the heads of the individuals who do business with them.

I thought my notion was revolutionary. As I searched for related ideas online (on my 3 year old computer), I discovered that other people more brilliant that I have already said the same thing:

  • “You do not choose to have a brand. You have one. Perhaps you think of it as your reputation, but it is a brand. It comprises everything your name evokes in your market.” ~ Harry Beckwith
  • “A brand is more than just advertising and marketing. It is nothing less than everything anyone thinks of when they see your logo or hear your name.” ~ David F. D’Alessandro

You, as a leader in your organization, determine your ethics. You portray your deeply held beliefs as you do business every day. If your ethics are based on the “true north” principles of integrity, humility, and honesty, you will serve your customers well because you are remaining true to your principles. Your brand is formed in your customers’ heads, and they will publicize it for you.

I am not minimizing the idea that you should work hard to make sure this branding process works well in your favor. The deeply held values of your organization will be projected in every facet of your work, and you need to nurture them fully. I looked back on every advertising campaign of the company who made my phone. There have been almost 300 individual campaigns over the past 30 years for all of their products. Almost every single one was promoting the NEXT new idea or product. It’s no wonder I experienced what I did when I tried to get my phone fixed. I could find no campaign in their history anything like “Built to last” or “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” They are remaining true to their ethics of creating and selling the most cutting-edge products on the market, and that branding is now etched permanently in my mind.

By the way, in spite of my consternation, I upgraded to the next level product in their smartphone line (through my wireless provider). It was the least expensive option because it will soon be phased out to make room for the newest version. In the meantime I WILL find a way to fix my old phone!

DISRUPT Media is dedicated, through our FUNERAL Social Design Process, to helping you tell your unique story to the public. Our FUNERAL Social Design Process is what enables DISRUPT Media to claim that we are the funeral profession’s only full service social media provider. Our clients who are a part of our FUNERAL Social Design Process are seeing an increase in post reach and engagement of over 300%. Go to to find out more about the services we offer.


About DISRUPT Media:  DISRUPT Media is a full service social media management and content agency dedicated to the funeral profession.  Started by Ryan Thogmartin, DISRUPT Media provides creative ideas and a simple plan to produce a social media presence that is completely unique for each client.  For more information, call DISRUPT Media at 740.617.0599 or visit the website at

Remember that many factors play into social media success. Image size, the time of day you post, and the length of posts all play a part in the organic reach of a post and the engagement of that post. You may be concerned about the legalities of posting non-original content, the mechanics involved, or your ability engage in online conversations. If so, you can turn to the experts at DISRUPT Media. We are the only full-service social media agency specifically catering to the funeral profession. Go to to find out more about the services we offer. Our clients who are a part of our FUNERAL Social Design Process are seeing an increase in post reach and engagement of over 300%