Why your brand strategy has to flow down through your organisation

Try this. The day a new advert comes out, ring the company that placed it and ask for the new product. More often than you want to think, the switchboard won’t know the product’s been released.

Or try this. Compare the brand guidelines that a marketing firm issued to a company’s marketing department with the materials produced by a local office – especially if that office has its own computer/printer set up. Count how many times you see a logo on the skew-wiff, the wrong fonts used, or some other kind of teeth-grinding solecism.

Or try this. Does the company’s advertising reflect your experience of it?

I’ve covered why getting the brand is right before (Why is getting the brand right so important?). There’s a different issue here, though, which links in to another of my earlier subjects, congruence.

Your brand has to be congruent with your offer. Your brand has to be consistently correct. But your brand also has to be shared, not just externally where your target clients are, but internally within your organisation so that your people actually behave as if your brand values were their values.

Getting this level of congruence is difficult (or there wouldn’t be so many how-to guides about it). You will read that you should be involving your staff in the brand story; consulting them when making brand changes; make it impossible for them to confuse the brand by ensuring they have all the collateral they need – and above all, you should enthuse them.

At which stage, if you have any sense, you’ll throw the guide across the room.

As any British manager will tell you, enthusing staff over something as peripheral – to them – as a brand is a lost cause. British workers don’t like to be enthused. What they want to do is understand, and once they understand they’ll go along.

And what you need them to understand is this: that your brand makes a promise on their behalf, and it is their job to ensure that they live up to that promise. (in its rawest terms, because keeping that promise keeps them in work).

This means, of course, that your brand promises must be achieveable. It’s no good pretending you employ angels and make ambrosia. You don’t, and you shouldn’t say you do, because how are you going to get your non-angelic staff to be angels?

Explain your brand to your staff. Explain why it matters to them, and what demands it makes of them. Ensure they live up to those demands. And you’ll find your organisation lives up to your brand promise; in reduced complaints, increased conversions from contact to sale – and a certain level of coherence throughout the whole firm.


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