When consulting to companies, it never ceases to amaze me how some business owners feel that their brand could be so much more, but it is not reaching its potential because they aren’t sure how to get the employees to be more ‘on-brand.’ “Oh, they’ll never do that,” or “We spent $X last year on that and it didn’t work,” or worse, “I cannot seem to get them to comply.”
Wait a minute….who owns the company? Who writes and signs the paychecks? And who hires and fires your employees? Who’s REALLY managing the brand?
When leadership doesn’t regularly articulate brand expectations and create a clear understanding of what the brand stands for from the very beginning to it’s employees it is exponentially more difficult to affect change within the employee culture as the business matures. Sudden changes regarding the request of new brand behaviors, usage of brand vocabulary, or establishing new standards of performance will be met with resistance, at first. It is a delicate process to say the least, but remember you own the brand, you are the leadership with the vision, and you do pay the salaries. It needs to be managed.
However, it is not impossible. And my point here is that if/when the company (brand) wants to take serious initiatives to move synergistically to the brand’s next level, it must be done in unison. Brand elevation cannot be achieved in a vacuum, in silo’d departments, by mid-level management, or by the CEO only. It is a conscious, strategic and very deliberate effort. And it is NOT an external marketing effort. It starts within the ‘people side’ of the business.
Employees, just like all human beings, are comfortable in regiments, habits, and regular, day-to-day duties that they can master and organize into projects, files, boxes and categories in their brains. They like having some sense of control. When change happens, fear (at some level) causes resistance and the ‘unknown’ becomes the enemy at first. With persistence, a proven process, consistency, and clear communication, any company can create change that elevates the brand to the next level. Granted, expect there to be bystanders that may never rally with the new movement (but this is also a good thing) and some (unexpectedly) that turn into immediate brand champions of change.
Brand elevation cannot occur without clarity and a solid, articulate definition of the brand’s own unique DNA. As the blueprint, your brand’s DNA becomes the foundation, backbone, and glue that ignites and sustains the movement. In order for brand transformation to come to fruition, everyone in the company must become aware of the brand DNA and feel a passion to contribute to it’s evolution. So, if the brand is not fully defined, how are you managing it? You have nothing to point to, back you up, or establish as the ‘written word’ without a clear definition of the brand. And of course, your employees won’t buy-in.
Where do you start?
- Identify the Brand’s attributes (DNA) with key members of your organization.
- Define the meaning of the attributes clearly and concisely.
- Build out the brand plan that will begin to imbed the brand attributes into the organizations’ processes, behaviors, and communication.
- Engage your employees into the brand by enlisting and empowering them to become it.
Are you ready to manage your brand elevation in 2013? …it’s all in your DNA.