Every organization, every person, every place, well…almost everything has a brand. Think about it – what’s the brand of Monday? How did Monday get a brand? It doesn’t even have a marketing budget!
In big companies Marketing or the “brand managers” (which I was at Procter & Gamble and Coors) are “in charge” of managing brand perceptions. But who’s really in charge? I spent my career managing billion dollar brands. The process of managing those brands is simple to understand, but extraordinarily hard to execute well. Especially today.
The reality of your brand is that every single employee has an impact on your brand. And today, so does every customer. So how do you “manage” your brand in this new reality? The first step is getting clarity on your true brand message. What do you stand for that is unique from competition? Then, be sure that every employee understands and delivers that message consistently to every customer. Give your employees the language to use so every customer knows what you do that’s special.
As a marketing speaker I teach the strategies that great companies use to build powerful brands. Today more than ever, consumers want to be in a relationship with brands that both listen and act on customer input. Social media has made it easier than ever for consumers to be heard. Companies now have the opportunity learn directly from their customers, and make changes based on their feedback. And it’s free. It used to be that consumer research was only done by the big companies. Now, they’ve lost that advantage – anyone can do it.
Social media scares many companies – especially big ones. At companies with clarity about their brand message, this is much less scary. If every employee knows exactly what the company stands for, they’re clear how to act in every situation, with every customer. They have the ability to do the right thing, and are clear what the right thing is. The foundation of a great brand always starts internally. When everyone in the company is clear on the brand, your customers will understand who you are, and what you stand for.
In great companies branding is everyone’s job. While branding efforts may be led by Marketing, the execution of these efforts happens at every level, in every department of the organization. Think about restaurants as an example. In restaurants, the brand is largely built on the front lines where the customers are being served. The servers are typically the lowest paid employees in the company – and the most important.
The hiring, training and motivating these front line employees is critical to the long-term success of a restaurant brand.
So, who’s in charge of your brand?