Branding to Reclaim Your Power1 Apr, 2010 By: Ray Meifert imageSource
Branding to Reclaim Your Power
Today’s economy has forced companies to run with lean
organizations and constrained financial resources resulting in challenges that
impact the quality of the relationships they have with their staff and
customers. These operational challenges can lead to your team chasing symptoms
of dissatisfaction rather than solving the root cause of issues. As we face
commoditization of our industry, now more than ever, it is important to step
back and take stock in what you are doing to reclaim your power. What you do
today to survive current economic conditions will determine how effectively you
are positioned for growth beyond 2010. To do this requires the alignment of all
of your company’s disciplines around a well-defined brand.
A brand is a collection of perceptions (the feeling) your
employees and customers have when delivering or experiencing your products or
services (the brand experience). Positioning your customer as the center of your
brand experience serves to align each function within your company assuring a
consistent scalable business. The first step is to understand and articulate
your brand platform. The brand platform is the set of guidelines that govern all
aspects of your brand; visual elements, messages, perceptions and
implementation. It is not your logo, tagline or company name. The brand promise,
a critical element of the platform, is what your customers should expect from
all interactions with your brand. If these expectations are not met, at the
minimum, you risk losing business; at the worst you create a “brand terrorist”.
The BIG Question:
Is your company brand experience what you want it to be?
A consistent brand experience is the core from which customers are gained and
kept, employees are hired and engaged and companies truly differentiate
themselves. How? It’s accomplished by using the brand platform to align,
integrate and support your two brand audiences; internal - employees and
external - customers. This provides the clarity necessary to drive
cross-functional organizational alignment of processes, goals and metrics.
Companies that communicate their brand platform effectively
have lower employee turnover, higher employee engagement, achieve premium
product pricing and higher company valuation. The second alignment step is brand
experience marketing. This is a collaborative cross disciplinary activity and
set of best practices to create, position, plan and communicate your brand
across all customer touch points. This is critical – statistics show that nearly
90% of marketing materials are not used because the brand experience does not
have the full support and understanding of all those departments involved. This
misalignment wastes money on product messaging, training and support.
Often in response, sales will create their own strategies
and communications resulting in confused customers, missed opportunities and
costly mistakes. To avoid this, brand experience marketing must include
consensus on goals, identification of key issues, strategies and tactics to
address issues, and cross-departmental communication to ensure synchronicity
when delivering on the brand promise.
The third step is operational alignment, the integration of
all internal cross-functional disciplines that deliver on the brand experience.
Companies that have a successful brand experience ensure that every employee,
from top to bottom, understands the company’s brand platform including its
personality, values and promise. Whether you are in management, human resources,
finance, sales, customer service, marketing or distribution your processes,
goals and metrics must be aligned to deliver the brand promise. Operational
alignment around the brand creates an organization that consistently and
carefully delivers on the brand promise to the customer.
When all employees are living an integrated brand they make decisions smarter
and faster, consistently act in a way that customers appreciate, consistently
act to increase the organization’s differentiation, hire the types of people to
create an environment that reflects the organization’s key values and they
budget the organization’s resources in a way that builds the brand and
reinforces key brand attributes.
The final step is incorporating sales. With a solid brand
platform articulated, marketing strategies communicated and operational business
practices, goals and metrics defined, the internal disciplines are now aligned
to deliver flawlessly on the brand promise to the customer. To execute your
brand promise, sales must now be integrated with the rest of the organization.
This is the key final step as 85% of brand decisions and brand loyalty are
created at the point of sales contact and after.
As Mike Bosworth, author of Solution Selling states, “The
fact is, the key positioning touch point often is the conversation a salesperson
has with a prospect. So, in many cases, responsibility for positioning your
company’s offering falls on the salespeople. It’s not fair. It’s not right. But,
it’s a reality.” Sales processes, goal and metrics fully aligned with the rest
of the organization around the brand promise will minimize your costs, improve
your closing rates and increase your market share.
Alignment of marketing, operations and sales around a
well-defined brand platform will help you grow your business in a tough economic
climate and create a foundation for future growth. Organizations want and need
to be successful. People want and need to do a good job. Alignment clarity
improves your company’s brand experience internally with your employees and
externally with your customers to grow your business.
This consistency will improve employee engagement, increase
customer retention, achieve premium pricing and create greater revenue per
Ray Meifert is a senior partner at Agility Partners Inc.
in MN. The firm is dedicated to helping organizations find clarity of purpose
through integrated alignment of their brand experience. www.agilityshift.com.