Brand Inside Out
Pictures, drawings or any type of image will create an emotional reaction of some sort – excitement, hope, anger, disappointment, happiness, indifference, etc.- all triggered by past experiences. It’s important to remember that your company logo is no different. As a stand alone, a logo is simply a graphical image, flat with no personality. You can say that your company logo stands for X, but what if what people have been experiencing with your brand equals Y? Then, like it or not, your brand perception is Y. For brands to resonate well in today’s marketplace it’s important that the brand/company experience aligns with the brand/company message.
In most cases, the experience starts with the people, so make sure the people you employee are inline with the company you envision having – values, work-ethic, purpose, drivers and motivators. Your people interact with your customers, create your product or service and mold the culture within your organization through their actions. Your culture and brand are what your employees make it.
I’ve always been a big proponent of PEOPLE first. Honor, respect, listen and share with your people. Make sure they understand the “what and why” behind your brand vision. Further, bring them into the fold and empower them with brand ownership. When you show your employees – at all levels – trust with the value you have for your company/brand it generates a ripple effect of positive momentum such as increased morale, productive brand chatter, internal collaboration and excitement toward reaching company goals. Most importantly, for the purpose of this article, it will make big steps toward connecting your people and culture with your brand message for an out of the ballpark brand experience.
When people, culture, brand message and presentation all align you are more apt to have two things: 1) brand advocates and 2) a brand message that resonates. Brand advocates can and should be internal and external. These are supporters and promoters of your brand – the believers. They trust in recommending your organization to their friends, family, co-workers and social followers because they have faith that your company will always follow through with what it says. Consequently, your brand resonates when you have advocates amplifying the messages you’re marketing.
A quick exercise any organization can do, big or small, to test their brand alignment is to create a triple t-chart of organizational culture, brand perception and brand vision. It’s simple, here’s what you do:
1) List 3-5 words that describe the atmosphere within your company walls: Organizational Culture
2) List 3-5 words that describe how your clients feel about your company: Brand Perception
3) List 3-5 words that describe how YOU envision your customers to feel about your company: Brand Vision
If they match up, kudos to you, you’re likely practicing some form of brand inside out. If you find the two sides are out of sync; perhaps it’s time to begin making steps toward narrowing the gap between what you say and what you do. Long gone are the days that your client’s decide where to spend their dollars based on the size of your building or number of employees. Consumer spend is largely based on relationships, intrinsic connection and product or service accountability. Put your attention to the inside and a bulk of your brand development, messaging and marketing work will be done for you. Your inside voice is often your loudest voice.