Your brand is a direct reflection of your core business. It is a presentation of your value to the beholder. Can you ensure it’s being represented correctly in the field by your managers? If it is not, imagine the confusion and lack of controlled experiences when customers come face-to-face with any part of your organization.
It is up to you to determine your brand. If you do not, your customers will determine it for you. Their perceptions relate to your brand performance and therefore, your company’s profitability.
People interact in a number of different ways with your business. That is where opportunities exist to set expectations and present your brand promise appropriately. We’ll start with the obvious management channels provided in a very simplified fashion:
Internal Brand Management. Let me ask you a few questions first.
- Have you actively drawn out your brand’s attributes and set its future course?
- Did you clearly and concisely communicate it to your entire organization?
- Can you honestly say that each and every person who works for you lives and breathes your brand?
Your identity shouldn’t be fabricated from a bunch of catch phrases you cannot deliver on. If your staff doesn’t understand or believe in it, neither will your customers. Your people need to not only be armed appropriately to put your brand into practice they also have to feel like an important part of the brand itself and identify with it personally in a way that impacts their delivery of it professionally. If they themselves are inspired, that emotion will pass on to the customers, strengthening brand engagement.
When your entire organization takes ownership and responsibility of the brand, what emerges is an undeniably rich community of ambassadors you can trust. To take this further, your management team needs to be your brand champions. The difference is that they must act as your organization’s role models. Leadership by example is a powerful lever. Your authenticity and commitment will put you miles above the rest to build brand equity. Without solid allegiance you won’t get very far.
Step 1 Brand Performance Catalyst
Set Core Values and Behavioral Standards that support your brand. Infuse your corporate structure and systems with your brand. Write it down and reinforce it at every turn with your managers through hiring practices, performance criteria, continued guidance, reward programs, and monitoring. Establish brand alignment, audit it regularly and nurture it constantly.
External Brand Management. More thoughts to set the stage.
- What is your customer’s perception around your brand and is it what you want?
- Do you know if each time your customers talk to your company or walk into a location they will have the same experience?
- Are you attracting the right customers who will get the most value out of your brand?
Brand promises must be widely understood and consistently delivered and aligned across both internal and external communications. Companies should go beyond standard acquisition strategies to attract and retain your “ideal” customer target market; not just any prospect. Servicing anyone correctly is not an inexpensive proposition—make your touches count.
Customers are bombarded with messages and varying location experiences. To have impact, one should make every effort to stand out in every way. Integrate and connect your brand strategies using various channels and smart messaging brought to the market both visibly and audibly. Enable and breed brand advocacy by expressing your value virally through social media and establish a loyal community around it.
At the end of the day, customer experience trumps all. That is why your manager’s role dictates your brand’s performance. By focusing on the manager, you turn the intangible into the tangible and that is when your brand becomes a powerful asset that has definable equity.
Step 2 Brand Performance Catalyst
Connect every dot. State it. Sell it. Live it. At each point a customer comes into contact with your brand make sure your managers establish expectations and meet them head on. Pre-determine your touch strategy to ensure this can be done with impact. Put the appropriate tools in their hands to enhance brand performance. Outline the initiatives but take them further and break them down into tactical actions that directly focus on building the brand.
To reinforce some of the core beliefs presented as a resource to support your brand performance efforts, refer back and share the following:
- Marketing is the care taker of your brand. Reflects the controlled brand exposure both in message and visual presentation.
- Employees bring your brand to life. When a customer interacts with an organization’s staff at any level, in any way.
- Experience cannot be argued. Ultimately, your brand is defined by the consistent experience brought to the market by the two items above.
Be the captain of your ship and choose your brand destiny. Time passes quickly and every moment you wait takes you further off course. Meanwhile, corrective actions only become more costly, and most importantly you are passing customers by. Remember: bring your managers to the forefront of your thoughts, as they are the catalyst when it comes to your brand’s performance.
Shiloh Kelly, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, Red Book Solutions