Every day, when I walk into my office, I see the silhouette that I used to create our logo hanging on the wall. When I am on a video conference (which happens more frequently these days), it is in the background. It is a constant reminder of where our company was focused when we started, and a big part of ‘The Why’ behind Anna’s Gourmet Goodies. But as Seth Godin reminded me in his season opener podcast from May 27, 2020, this logo is not our brand.
In a comment during the show, he reminds us that a ‘brand is a promise, not a logo’. The artist and entrepreneur in me absolutely loves the art, the thought and the design that goes into a logo. After all, it is often the first impression we get of any company. It is the front door to a business. And while that is an important part of any business, it’s what’s behind the door that really matters.
We purchase different things at different times for different reasons. There are times when we buy what we need because it is urgent, or it meets our needs. But the moment we begin to think about that purchase, when we think about what we expect, the idea of brand almost invariably comes into our thought process. We remember the experience of purchasing something from a company that kept their promise, and we remember the experience where that did not happen.
The pandemic has impacted virtually every person on the planet in so many diverse ways. We won’t know the true impact of all that has happened for years, perhaps decades. The financial impact on businesses in all sectors is undeniable. It has caused us, me included, to think carefully about where we spend our money. Now, more than ever, is a time when keeping the promise is critical for any brand to survive.
At Anna’s Gourmet Goodies, we are fortunate that everything we do is built around a set of promises, not just cookies and brownies. Our products are great. We occasionally receive direct feedback from recipients who rave about the taste and quality of what we make. But there have been a handful of times in the past 20 years when we did not hit the mark. We had one recently, and without hesitation, we made it right. That’s part of our promise.
While we don’t have a list on the wall of our promises, I’ve put some thought into this lately and here is what I came up with:
- We promise to treat every single order with the same love and care as if it were the only order we process that day. Whether is it one package, or 100 packages.
- We promise to look thru every order, and if we find a typo in the address so it does not verify, a name spelling that does not look right, a typo in the message or maybe the person forgot to sign the card – we’ll reach out and ask if this is correct.
- We promise not to thoughtlessly substitute ingredients of lower quality just to improve the bottom line by a few pennies or dollars. For example, when pure vanilla hit $500+ a gallon, we refused to switch to artificial at <$10 a gallon.
- We promise to treat all our suppliers like part of our team, our family. We pay our bills on time. If we make a mistake, we own up to it. And if the supplier makes a mistake, we give them the chance to make it right.
- We promise to treat every customer with dignity and respect. If we make a mistake, we take ownership and make it right. If we are not the right fit or don’t have what they need or want, we’ll be honest, let them know up front and if possible, refer them to another business that can help.
- We promise to continue to show gratitude for what we receive and to be good stewards of the gifts we have been given. Our customers entrust us with their money and we promise to use that wisely to provide products and services that are of value in a sustainable business that will be here next week, next month and next year.
We recently had an experience with a company in Washington state that demonstrated the epitome of a brand keeping its promise. In a time before the digital camera age, I invested in a Sony Hi8 video camera. It was believed to be the best of its kind at the time. This was in 1998, just before Anna was born.
Our first tape in this camera, was to record Anna’s birth. The hospital set us up in a single private room for everything – labor and delivery. Of course I did not want to capture anything that would compromise Debbie’s modesty, so I setup the camera in the corner of the room to capture the event, the conversation, the background music and of course, Anna’s first cry. I still have vivid memories, but the images on this tape are priceless.
For the next 10 years, we captured other significant events on tape including first crawl, first steps, birthdays, Easter egg hunts, Christmas pageants, vacation and more. Mostly, we captured life.
With the tapes more than 20 years old, it was time to think about converting them to a digital format before they deteriorated or the camera failed. I looked into buying the equipment and doing it myself, but I found this company on Amazon.com, Lotus Media.
While I could have purchased their service on Amazon, I went to their website, searched for more reviews, looked them up on Facebook and finally, decided to call. To my surprise, Ngina answered the phone. No ‘voice defense system’ – a real person.
I asked about the service and the various options. She patiently explained everything and what they recommend for sending in the tapes. It did not sound like a sales pitch or a script, but a conversation with a friend. At some point, she explained that they understand these are not just tapes, but priceless memories that cannot be replaced. I understood their promise.
I packed the tapes, over-doing everything. Return address labels on each tape case, tapes inside a padded plastic envelope with a return address label, the envelope in a box to ship via USPS Express Mail Overnight. I was taking a leap of faith with irreplaceable memories expecting that Lotus Media would keep their promise.
I called and left a message after receiving notice that the package had been delivered. Ngina returned my phone call and sent an email confirming the package arrived and my order was in process. The delivery estimate for the digital files was about two weeks. I was surprised and elated when an email arrived a few days later confirming that my order was ready.
The files were shared via Google drive and with one click, I was transported back to a time twenty two years ago when what was to become the little girl we used to create our logo, came into this world. Her first cry. Her first bath. Her Mom holding her for the first time. Priceless.
There are plenty of examples of a company living up to their brand by keeping their promise. For me, Lotus Media did exactly that, 110%. And while we are not handling priceless memories for our clients, rest assured that the Anna’s Gourmet Goodies brand we’ve been building for the past 20 years will continue to do what we say and deliver more than our customers and their recipients expect. We promise.