Recently I took a leisurely drive to my appointment at H&R Block. While I’ve usually done our own taxes through TurboTax, I could not complete them this year without spending some hard-earned cash so I could work on Schedule C (my wife has a home-based business and we itemize the deductions for that). Frustrated, I made an appointment with a tax person there, and showed up 5 minutes early.
What struck me most was the lobby. It was FULL of the H&R Block brand, which is very distinctive. Basically, the H&R Block brand is the green color, and the big sans-serif font that is in bold. There were also banners in stands, hanging graphics, green balloons, signage all over the cubicle walls, and all the literature had the brand color dominant.
The H&R Block brand has not altered much over the decades, and because of that, it is instantly recognizable. You see THAT green, and you know it’s H&R Block. And the name itself is synonymous with tax preparation, and the frequent butt of stand-up comics, and one-liners in both comedy and drama movies and TV. It is that effective a brand.
To say branding is important is an understatement. When we see the yellow “M” we don’t even have to see the name “McDonald’s” spelled out. Or how about the bright red circle with the reversed-out white cursive lettering – we know that is Coke. But it’s more than logos: it’s the entire selection of colors, the consistent use of taglines, it’s EVERYTHING that a B2B or B2C buyer can identify with that product or service. That same “H&R Block” green was on the business cards, and the informational flyer that was handed to me when I checked in. Even as I was on the website that same “green” was all over.
The pitfall in branding is the misconception that is is just the appearance, or the graphics used, or the visual elements in print, TV and online media. Brand carries into best practices, into the culture of the business. For example, as I walked in, the receptionist (actually, I’ll call her a greeter), STOOD UP (never expected that), greeted me with a smile, and then looked at her monitor and asked if I was Mr. Prothero. I was impressed. And I don’t think she was the exception. I’m sure that there is a standard for the “greeters” and how they must present themselves. This greeter immediately engaged me, stood up (a sign of respect), and politely offered me a seat while she told my tax preparer I was there. All professional, and courteous, but more importantly – PART OF THE BRAND.
Successful companies establish a brand that is not only visual, but sensual. It touches the senses so that the customer is fully engaged. And I can assure you that next year, I will return to this specific H&R Block office simply because my brand experience with them was so satisfactory.