Quick, what does your brand stand for?
If you have to stop and think, you’re in trouble.
It’s important to continuously educate your organization about what makes your brand unique. Because the worst brand message is no brand message at all.
Of course, you have a brand message. You know it by heart from all those conference room presentations you’ve made. But you’re not the person who’s face-to-face with your customer. That’s the job of your sales team or your dealer’s sales team. Truth is, everyone from sales to accounting to purchasing to customer service should be able to answer the “what does your brand stand for” question.
I know what you’re thinking. “You’re just saying that because you’re a branding agency.” Fair enough, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Here’s why:
Understanding your brand will help your sales team.
If your salespeople don’t understand your brand’s carefully crafted position, they’ll just make stuff up. Or they’ll ignore the concept altogether and dive right into features and benefits…which often leads to competing on price. That’s fine if you’re Walmart, but if you’re selling complex equipment in a crowded marketplace, price is a tough position to own. Sales folks are often technical experts in their field, but they tend to put branding in the same category as crystals and astrology—let’s say they’re skeptical. We often hear our clients confidently say that their sales team is fully up to speed on brand essence. Really? Then here’s a fun game to test that idea. Next time you have a meeting with your sales team, hand them each a piece of paper and ask them to write down the company’s brand purpose. The results will likely be somewhere between enlightening and alarming. Salespeople, smart as they are, often require a bit of education and training before they truly grasp brand messages. And once they do, their job gets easier.
A differentiated brand will help you connect with your customers.
Once your organization can consistently communicate your brand’s essence across every touchpoint of the customer experience, your customers will understand—and relate to—the distinct attributes you stand for. Consistency leads to memorability and builds confidence. Customers know what to expect from your company—and when that happens, they grow to trust and depend on your brand. People trust brands that they understand.
The flip side of this is confusion. A wandering, randomly morphing brand definition puts you on an uphill slope with every new sales cycle. (“What is it you guys do again?”) Just as important, your brand must deliver on the promises you do make.
Truth in Advertising is still a thing. Perhaps now more so than ever.
For example, if your strategic brand message says you’re easy to do business with, but you leave customer service problems unresolved, your customers will soon know they’ve been lied to. This is a fundamental risk that’s often overlooked.
You can’t promise the moon when in fact you can barely reach the International Space Station. Rather than stretch the truth in all directions, focus on those honest and proprietary assets that do exist and shout ‘em—again, in consistent language—from the rooftops. Being honest about everything from quality to sourcing and sustainability is the best way to turn customers into long-term fans.
A clear understanding of your brand improves your organization’s culture.
A brand story that everyone understands and feels good about helps as much inside your company as it does out in the marketplace. Why? Because it defines an enviable workplace culture. Studies show companies with strong brands have increased employee retention and a higher level of satisfaction.
For a deeper dive on this point, check out this dissertation from a while back. But for now, think about the trend of ranking “Great Places to Work”. A brand that occupies a clear and engaging position will often contribute to an enhanced employee experience. For fun, spend a little time on glassdoor.com and compare reviews of brands you admire compared to those of their lesser competitors.
Brand building from the inside out.
If you’re curious what an ongoing brand-building effort looks like, take a look at this example of internal brand training from Mack Trucks. We helped build tools that the employees selected as “brand champions” used to get everyone on board with the new brand direction. It’s a great example of how a successful rebrand requires a campaign rather than a single announcement. Of course, every brand has different needs. What are yours? Send us a note if you have questions about your brand’s appeal, messaging, or effectiveness.
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