Connecting Business to Brand
We believe that business and brand do not have to be so far apart. In fact, we believe that business and brand are intrinsically linked, a partnership that requires constant attention in all areas of your business. Brand is not the sole responsibility of brand managers or marketers. And the daily running of the business is not the sole responsibility of operational people.
One directly impacts the other.
Brand and marketing professionals cannot change the core elements of the brand, without appropriately engaging the operational arms of the business.
It just won’t work.
At the same time, the operational arm cannot go against the fundamental principles of the brand, as this will impact its market appeal, that being, an impact to the customer.
And all of this impacts the bottom line.
So why is it that many businesses continue to struggle with creating this synergy?
Is it due to the constant focus on KPI’s, which are outcomes - so people do what needs to be done to achieve the outcome, but not really understanding the journey they and the business are on?
Or, is it a result of people working in organisations that do not share the same beliefs as those attempting to drive the business forward - hence the level of employee disengagement experienced?
Or, is it that the company does not understand what they stand for, who they serve and what their actual purpose is? If this is the case, how can employees connect to a vision which is not clearly defined and therefore is it this which creates the employee disengagement?
Or, is it a result of the recruitment practices which may be mis-aligned (sorry to my friends in the recruitment industry)?
We spend time on recruiting people based on “skills”, or “competence”. Some may even recruit to the business values, which is better than the first two options, but still misses a key ingredient - that is, recruiting to brand values (which are different to business/company values which I will explain a little further down).
In my 20 years in corporate life and now working with a multitude of clients in my own business, it is more evident that ever before that the constructs of brand and business are 100% linked.
Now, I know that some might read this and say, “well, of course”.
But there are many examples that we all can think of through our own personal experiences - and some of you may be living this now - where this does not occur. Business, brand, marketing, other operational business units - all working as silos.
And if this was so simple to achieve, then why are there copious amount of stories, reports, studies and personal anecdotes of poor brand experiences?
This goes beyond the delivery of ‘good or poor customer service’.
The evidence in numerous employee engagement studies highlight that the typical employee does not believe in the “cause” of the business they represent. Or more importantly, the people responsible for that business cannot articulate - in an authentic way - what the “cause” is.
So, here are our 4 tips for creating balance between business and brand, and ultimately, value to the customer:
1. Develop a clear Why.
Now this is not new, but very few actually do this, and I mean, really invest in the exercise. Simon Sinek famously states that your “why” is not about making a profit. That is an outcome. Your Why is not just what you do, but what that does.
And if you need some guidance in how to structure your why, the formula is simple:
Why = Contribution/Impact
And the construct of the why statement is as follows:
To (Contribution) so that (impact)
Final tip, when defining your contribution, think of it as a specific moment that made you feel proud, when your organisation was at its best. The story you think of must not be about numbers, but about people and how they were affected, and most importantly, what was the specific contribution your organisation made in the persons life at that moment.
When defining your impact, ask yourself, ‘what did these contributions allow others to go on to do or to be.
To many times I’ve experienced, and seen, surface level effort in organisations to genuinely bring their story to life. And I get it. It can be very easy too become focused on moving forward to the next challenge. And that is ok because we do need to move forward.
But don’t forget to come back regularly and preach.
The work doesn’t end, or your responsibility in that task reduce as a result.
Sell the benefits of your brand and what you are trying to achieve, and even more importantly, why it matters. If you cannot bring people along the journey, to believe what you believe (another Simon Sinek reference), then why should they, or anyone else, care.
3. Have clear Brand Values - "beliefs in action".
Believe it or not, this is very different to corporate values. Generally, the values that are created and pushed to employees via corporate values are inward-facing statements. And lets be honest, in almost all instances, ones organisations values are interchangeable with another. Words like “Excellence”, “Professionalism”, “Leadership”, or “Innovation” just to name a few are used.
That could be anyone.
In direct contrast, we believe that values should be expressed in simple, client facing, down to earth language, which we prefer to describe as "beliefs in action”
So, create your beliefs in action.
4. Identity pillars
There are 4 pillars that business, and subsequently, all communication must be built upon. These are:
1. Brand Values
2. Brand Benefits
3. Brand Personality
4. Brand Associations.
1. and 2. support you with all your internally driven communication and, in our opinion, are the key piece to delivering on all the KPI’s and financial outcomes of your business - but is driven by the input and not the outcome.
3. and 4. are completely focused on the external world and how you want that audience to think and feel about your business.
We believe that creating synergy in business is of the utmost importance, but we also appreciate that this may not always be easy if you have many moving parts. Communication, or the lack thereof, is one of the most consistent pieces of feedback that is extracted from employee engagement surveys - globally. Therefore, working on and creating a crystal clear message that everyone can understand and get behind is probably the most important thing you can do for your business.
Create your why, preach, put your beliefs in action - every day - and clearly understand how communication occurs internally and externally.
This is what creates change.
This is how you #createaripple.