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The image above should come as no surprise to anyone who has visited a burger restaurant. The carefully crafted photograph on the right, with the plump bun, carefully manicured filling and soft lighting is a far call from the reality of the product many of us are served – shown on the left.
Large organizations employ consultants like us to create beautiful brand experiences for them, carefully crafted, plump and manicured, approved by board members and management teams as hailed as being ‘right for the company’. However, this is only the beginning.
As one client mentioned to me a few months ago, “It’s great that you have built a wonderful brand for us, thank you. You have considered every angle and positioned us for the future, but how am I going to be sure that the brand my customers meet, is the brand you have created for me?” Herein lies a perennial problem for corporations around the world. If you are a brand builder and are being hounded by your management team about this issue, believe me, you are not alone.
We all talk about Brand Experience as being the next big thing, and it is. However, as consultants, we have a responsibility to help our customers deliver what we create for them. A Brand Promise is part of this. It is not always that simple, not everyone understands the power of Brand. So the first challenge is to educate your staff that every detail matters, help everyone, from the Tea Boy to the Chairman to understand what it means to be on-brand. How you answer the phone, how you deal with a complaint, how you help your customer understand that your product is designed to help them. Every detail matters – this becomes the practical embodiment of your Brand Promise.
In some organizations, this means changing the culture of the organization from the inside out. In Banks, this may mean changing frontline staff, switching from the old mindset to a service oriented mindset – thinking like a retailer.
I once met a CEO who believed in the power of a Brand Promise and Culture Change to drive his brand forward. His mantra was ‘reliability’. His organization had suffered during the financial crisis, customers lost their trust in his organization and he was challenged by his shareholders to turn this around. He focussed on every detail in creating an environment of reliability in his company.
Starting with the basics, answering the telephone in a professional way and getting back to people when you say you will, an understanding and empathy with customers who are traumatized and a passion to resolve their issues professionally. He, with us, defined what ‘reliability’ meant to every individual in his organization… for instance, he made everyone greet guests personally at the company reception, and following a meeting, he insisted that the most senior person in the room escorted the guest to the exit in a friendly and professional way.
Now, some would say ‘this is frivolous, what impact do these actions have on business – business is all about profit.’ I dismiss this point of view as being ignorant and out of touch with the modern world.
Customers are hard to win, when you have them, you must nurture them, maintain their trust in you and deliver to your promise. The CEO I mentioned turned his business around, employed happy staff and won customers trust… and guess what happened… the profits jumped.
80% of the work in building a Brand comes after the initial phase of work in creating or evolving the brand. Culture change and brand evolution are delivered from the top. Start there. Great organizations like Orange had a visionary CEO in Hans Snook who believed in delivering on a brand promise, he, with the help of some very smart people in his organization, built a culture that transcended business and became a lifestyle for so many employees and customers.
Hans led from the top. He set KPIs for each and every individual in his organization around delivering on the Brand Promise… and, astonishingly to some, these were weighted equally or greater than hard business metrics. As a result of his actions, customers, employees, investors, and every man and woman, knew what to expect from Orange, and they delivered every time.
Of people cited shared values as the main reason they have a relationship with a brand.
Of people said “authenticity of content” is the most influential factor in their decision to become a follower of a brand.
There are 2.1 million negative social mentions about brands in the US alone, every single day.
Source: Ad Week
Managing Director – MEAI & Asia