Where does your Brand live? If you're like the majority of organizations, it's probably right at home in the marketing department along with a license for “creative interpretation.” However, if you happen to be Southwest Airlines, considered to be among the most successful Brands, your Brand lives in the office of every executive, behind every airport kiosk and telephone, and at the head chair of every meeting. No matter what your marketing budget is, the only companies with successful Brands are the ones that are living the Brand.
Whether you're already in the process of developing your Brand or just beginning to consider the possibility, it's important to check in periodically to gauge whether your company is leveraging its greatest asset - your Brand - by delivering on the promises it makes, both within and outside the company. You're on the right track if you can confidently say these five things are true about your organization:
1. Top executives - particularly the CEO and other leadership - understand and champion the Brand in major decisions and day-to-day operations. One of the top guides for Brand Development, Building the Brand-Driven Business, says there's no way around getting executive support. “Companies that take Brand building seriously generally have someone at the top who made the Brand a top priority.” Without consistent and enthusiastic buy-in from leadership, it's nearly impossible for a Brand to gain a foothold within a company.
2. All employees in the company not only understand the Brand's promise, they understand their critical roles in bringing the Brand to life. Each team member feels responsible for upholding the Brand image through their interactions with others, from customers to other team members. Supervisors provide clear expectations for their staff and hold them accountable for living the Brand.
3. Employee briefings on the Brand are never exclusive, singular, or one-way. Living the Brand successfully depends on a consistent company culture, which is why every employee gets briefed on the Brand – even those who don't interact with customers. Meetings to reinforce Brand values and update the team on changes are part of your routine. And, valuable employee feedback and suggestions are taken seriously. If an idea can't be used, explain why. Show your team how valuable they are to your Brand.
4. There's no separation between business and Brand strategies. One of the biggest mistakes after the Brand Development process, failing to integrate the Brand with business plans, is swiftly sidestepped by making the Brand a priority in every meeting - not just marketing meetings. The Brand is not relegated to the “expense” line on a balance sheet - it takes a front seat in determining how money is spent.
5. Brand success isn't left to chance – the team is rewarded for meeting Brand performance benchmarks. As with any investment, Brand Development is tracked and measured to determine success. Employees have a stake in the Brand's success through some sort of incentive or recognition program and are not only informed about successes and failures in Brand performance, but are also involved in brainstorming new solutions.
By embracing these five ideas in your organization, you’ll be set up for a huge return on your Brand investment. If you're not quite there yet, understand that most companies aren't, and consider the advantage you'll have over your competition as you continue to transition your strategy and culture to living the Brand!
Did this article spark questions or ideas on living the Brand? We want to hear about it! Share with us in the comments section, contact Jim Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 309-673-8191.