Why Your Brand Is A Commitment To Yourself
When it comes to building brand, many organisations and businesses treat the process only as an externally-facing consideration.
In these instances, the focus will be on what the logo looks like, or how the website ‘feels’.
There’ll be tremendous scrutiny on the wording of the company mission statement, or whether a colour scheme is indicative of the right values.
The copy on sales material will be raked over, for the perfect combination of phrasing and promises that motivate someone to buy.
But internally, it’s often a different story. I’ve seen companies craft glowing positioning to land clients, and then act in a completely contradictory manner behind closed doors.
And I’ve witnessed businesses extol their exemplary customer service, yet never respond to emails or messages.
I’ve heard agency folk declare how important a particular client is, only to then vehemently berate them when they’ve left the room.
And I’ve seen companies make much of their brand values, and then knowingly engage in unscrupulous behaviour.
All of the examples I’ve mentioned are unfortunately true. Such organisations do exist, and I’ve witnessed many across sectors and industries.
And though they’re in different fields, they do have one commonality: they’re not winning.
None of these companies are Salesforce, SAP, Hiscox, AMV BBDO, IKEA, Pentagram, or Microsoft. In fact, you’ve probably never heard of the organisations I’ve exampled.
That’s because a big part of being a successful business, is committing to the values you sell yourself on. Even when no one is watching.
The Art of Keeping a Promise
A brand is a promise. But it’s not only a promise when you want to close a sale, it’s a promise all the time.
That means if you’re committed to great customer service, this principle should be extended in all directions. Therefore your customer service should be evident in how you deal with the services you employ.
So everyone – from the person delivering the office water bottle, to the web developer you hired for updates – should have the same experience your clients and customers do.
Typically such values should be mandated at management level, so the idea can trickle down to inform the culture of an organisation. In my experience, if those values aren’t present at management level, they won’t be found anywhere else.
So a worthy brand represents a commitment. Not just to the perception of what you do, but how you actually do it.
And this isn’t just a touchy-feely sentiment – it’s vital for the bottom-line. According to a U.S. Food Revolution Study, 94% of consumers said transparency from brands and manufacturers is important, and impacts their purchases.
In a survey of over 10,000 consumers from around the world, 78% said it is ‘somewhat or very important for a company to be transparent.’
So if it’s embracing our outward values internally is so important, why doesn’t it happen all the time?
No Short Cuts to Success
Building brand is effort. It takes work, time and patience to build value into an organisation. And unfortunately, many directors, managers and entrepreneurs are short on all three.
So instead, they look for short cuts, hacks, tricks and schemes. This entails whatever marketing chicanery is on offer, from buying likes to strategic SEO.
When business is slow, they try to grab more attention. They seek to interrupt others, and strong-arm engagement.
But they rarely look inward as to the deeper reasons – the why behind the poor results.
I’d wager for anyone across any industry (and I’m including myself in this) that if your business is slow, it’s because something you’re doing is not connecting with what you want to do.
This can manifest in any context. For example, if a company primarily positions itself as ‘cutting edge’, this quality should be apparent throughout the business. It should bleed into every decision they make.
Perhaps it dictates the space they work in, or the manner in which they communicate. But at the least, ‘cutting edge’ should be more than Word documents and clunky Powerpoints.
4 Steps Forward
So how does a brand maintain it’s promise? What steps can we take to make sure our businesses are authentic, and connect both internally and externally in meaningful ways?
1. Commit 100% or don’t even bother
If you think brand values and mission statements are all a bunch of hooey, then don’t attempt any branding/positioning/etc. It’s a waste of time and resource.
But by the same token, don’t be surprised if your business stagnates or fails.
The kind of effort required in building brand, is present only when there is real belief in a business creating a positive impact.
2. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver
If you can’t deliver it, just don’t say it. If you don’t have customer service staff working around the clock, then guess what? You don’t offer 24/7 customer service to your customers.
Sounds simple, but I’m constantly amazed at how often this happens.
3. What happens without, happens within
If your brand pride’s itself on it’s responsiveness, that responsiveness should be evident internally.
If you tell customers that you value transparency, that same transparency should be employed in the office.
When an organisation is inconsistent in how it positions itself, and how it deals with it’s own staff and suppliers. People tend to notice – especially staff and suppliers. This is how reputations are built.
4. Make your positioning an internal exercise
Your brand or company mission statement is not just a script to roll out in phone pitches. It is a useful tool in building consistency and authenticity.
If you don’t have one, build one (we can help with that). And if you do have one, make sure everyone working with or around you, implicitly understands it.
Everyone that interacts with a business, are effectively it’s brand ambassadors.
These points just skim the surface of what’s required to build a meaningful enterprise today.
But as time goes on and the business landscape becomes increasingly challenging, I believe these are the considerations that will help create businesses and brands, built to last.
“Commitment is what transforms a promise into a reality.” – Abraham Lincoln