Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Internal and external brand alignment

Two sides. One coin. That’s brand alignment

They say that nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising. They’re right. You can spend millions on hiring the most creative ad agencies, producing the most memorable adverts and broadcasting those ads far and wide, but if you don’t pay attention to what’s happening under your nose, you’re toast.

Customers are generally smart. But with internal and external brand alignment, customers can be as thick as planks and they’ll still catch you out when what you promise isn’t what you deliver.

You say that all calls are answered within five rings. Then answer them within 5 rings. You say there’s a discounted iPad with every account. Then deliver that iPad timeously. You say that your product is the fastest, oldest, strongest, cheapest, sharpest or cleverest. Then make damn sure it is the fastest, oldest, strongest, cheapest, sharpest or cleverest. Better yet, don’t say it until you know it’s true!

Why? Because customers forgive a lot of things but they don’t forgive liars. And they hate being made to look like fools. So when you make a promise to your marketplace, keep it.  If, after talking to your company or buying your product, your customer is left disappointed or feeling duped, he’ll let everybody and his brother know. Believe it.

In our world of Twitter and Facebook (not to mention consumer sites like HelloPeter), news travels fast. The reputation of your brand can soar or crash almost instantly. And as more and more of our lives are spent online, that speed will only become faster.

So it’s essential for your brand to be internally and externally aligned. Work with your sales force, customer service, tech-support, upper management and even your customers to establish a single-minded, unified approach to the way you do business. Make sure that when your CFO talks to the financial press and when your cashier talks to your customer, both stay on-message.

Staff buy-in to the brand and what it stands for is crucial to alignment. Employees who believe are your finest ambassadors. Employees who feel frustrated and unhappy are assassins.  So how you hire, treat and train your staff is crucial to building a consistent brand. Involve your staff in the branding process – and they will reward you by becoming more involved.

So when they answer the phone, and there is a complaint, your staff won’t dismiss it as, “Oh, that’s just the ad campaign, ma’am. That’s not how we do things. Lol!”

Instead, your staff will feel personally involved and help fix the issue. Whatever it is.

Now that’s brand alignment.
Hilton Rose
Your Brand Agency | Director
linkedin.com/in/hiltonrose | Skype: hilton293