When an organization makes a decision to initiate a formalized internal brand development exercise they must prepare for and expect the results to impact every facet of the business. You see, branding isn’t about putting a prettier ‘lipstick on the pig’ (a new logo and website refresh), so to speak. True brand development starts from deep inside the business where the values, ideology, behaviors, and processes live. Branding, when done correctly, permeates the fundamental philosophies, leadership practices, and even the cultural narrative within an organization.
Brand development is an internal process that leads to answering these fundamental questions below, and provides crystal clarity on how companies can begin moving the preferred brand value position into tangible actions and behaviors that create the desired experience…from the inside of the organization (first) to the outside customer experience (ultimately).
Ideally, this process is done prior to any marketing efforts, as it will guide the marketing message, style of delivery, tone of the narrative, and explain the brand promise in the minds of the market. But it is the DELIVERY of that brand promise that will make or break the customers trust, increase or decrease advocacy, and sustain or dwindle the competitive advantage.
3 Key Questions:
“Who are we?” This question encompasses the company’s core values and their brand style attributes which shape their collective personality and helps them make everyday decisions the keep them aligned with who they say they are. Clarifying this piece is a huge directive for helping the organization to ‘stay in its own lane’ so to speak and focus on what they do, how they do it, and why.
“What makes us different?” This is not as simple as it seems. Most businesses look at the practical features and benefits of the product they sell to uncover their differentiators. But that is not where I am most focused on with my clients. There are many, deeper actions, behaviors, philosophies, and goals that help make more successful brands sustain their success and keep their edge in a busy competitive environment. Putting product aside…what’s left to make you different? Well, lots. There are your people policies, your culture creation, employee retention abilities, your commitment to customer service, innovation, and the environment, etc. I could go on and on. Look deeper for your true competitive advantages and seek to find numbers and statistics that will hold to be true (i.e. we served over 5.6 million hamburgers – you get the picture?).
Why should our customers care? Does your brand promise even matter? If it matters to you, you are likely to appeal to others like you. But doing the due diligence in clarifying these ‘matter points’ is unbelievably therapeutic to your entire culture (brand ambassadors), and creates a unique level of ‘ownership’ within the environment that seeds more and more of what you believe you are. Kinda magical. But real. Clarity is the basis for action.
Now go and pow-pow with your key team and flush out these detailed answers – not just pie in the sky stuff. Then, organize it, (think info graphic?) and send them out to everyone who represents your brand. Collaborate, discuss, come to final conclusions….then action these attributes in every facet of your organization (including the board room, sales meetings, on-boarding, and more). And watch the magic begin.