The best marketing assumption if you want to ruin your brand!

There are too many marketers out there saying that branding is all about impression. They have no idea how wrong they are. Forget about brand integrity and quality, and see your reputation breaking into pieces in no time.

A former boss of mine had a famous catchphrase: “Impression, impression, impression. It’s all about impression”.

The message was simple and actually quite understandable: the medium is the message, and the impression you make while delivering the message will determine the recipients’ reaction. In other words: people will buy anything that looks nice enough, regardless of its true value.

I used to get furious every time this “brilliant” catchphrase would pop-up. It felt like everything is a fraud. Can you advocate for making an impression without having a truly valuable proposition behind it?

The definite answer is no. An impression is nice and important, but it must be backed by true content. If your offer is unworthy, don’t bother wrapping it in nice paper.

Does your reputation resemble a concrete wall or a balloon?

A firm’s reputation should be rock-solid. It should be like a fortress wall, built upon strong foundations, supported by pillars, filled with concrete, and then (only then) painted nicely from the outside. The paint is the external impression, but most important are the foundations, the pillars of your offer; the concrete is the content with which you fill the proposition.

Reputation that is built only on impression is more comparable to a balloon. You can inflate it, it looks big and colorful, but it will pop in your face with the tiniest touch.

What if you can’t deliver your promise? What if you don’t stand up to the expectations you’ve created? What if people come to you to receive a product or a service and don’t find what they were looking for? People will sooner or later (and usually sooner than later) uncover your real value. And when they do, they will get angry.

Lying has a boomerang effect. It always comes back to haunt you. This effect is amplified in the era of information and social media. Nowadays, when you don’t have full control over the image of your brand online, all you need is one unhappy client to become the next joke of the online world.

Marketing is not about tricking people into a one-time purchase. It is about creating constructive relations that encourage substantial long-term commitment. This cannot be built through deceptive advertisement or false promises. It can be built only upon positive experience, only with true care for the customers’ needs and expectations.

And now to the best assumption if you want your brand to actually survive and thrive

I would change my boss’s catch phrase into: “Integrity, integrity, integrity. It’s all about integrity.”

Bottom line: Honesty and sincerity are key.

If you don’t want to bring your brand to ruins, focus on creating only truly sustainable impressions, ones with which you can easily identify and that you are confident in your ability to deliver.

Be honest with yourself and with your customers. Listen to your customers. Hear what they have to say, feel their needs and respond to them. Improve yourself. Create something valuable for the customer — it will create more happy clients, and will make your businesses better and more successful.

Originally published at on August 11, 2015.