Brand building is not the domain for marketing only
Who is responsible for brand building in your organization?….. If your answer is marketing and brand managers, then you probably need to rethink.
I have met many people across the organizations, including seasoned professionals who, surprisingly, think that the brand building is only meant for marketing and brand managers. I advice them to ponder again.
Branding is the holistic view by which customers perceive and see your product. Branding, from any perspective, is the overall experience for the customer. Interestingly, this experience is not only involves the satisfaction by using your product; but a sense of elation, trustfulness at every touch-point that he has with your organization.
Branding embraces every aspect of your marketing strategy like your advertising message, web presence, core message, product delivering promised preposition etc. Do remember, beyond these facets, customers have holistic experience with your brand. I believe branding as the experience enriching endeavors by whole organization for the customers.
So, the big question – Who owns the branding? My answer – every employee in your organization.
Many companies have altered their branding from push based branding communications to more trust based touch points.
Employees and functions as brand custodians:
Across the functions, employees become vital to transmit the messages which are the central point for branding. Sales and marketing have more impact for being in direct contact with customers. Quality control, R&D, finance, HR and various other functions have an indirect role to play in brand building.
A quality product is developed by research team, impeccably manufactured and packed by production, passed with zero error by quality, communicated with great gusto to customers by marketing, sold with all promises and benefits by sales team, delivered within timelines by logistics, and efficient after sale service by customer care function. At each point the customer comes in contact with your organization in various ways. Every touch point has the great opportunity to take your brand to greater heights or mar it beyond repair. Malfunctioning at even a single link can prove fatal to your brand.
I changed my mobile operator for the last 10 years due to horrified service of their billing department who kept on sending me grossly inflated bills and done nothing to give me peace of mind. The operator is number one player with world-class marketing and branding team, invested heavily on processes and policies; but remember, nothing can replace the human touch. Taking brand reputation for granted by some employees cost loyal customer to the organization.
Brand managers should understand that its one thing to communicate and build the brand promise; and its altogether the different thing to live up to the expectations, to give the promised experience to the customer. The later involves stakeholders from varied functions, within the organization, which are vital links to build impeccable brands.
Changing perspective of building brands:
The changing paradigm of branding has been embraced by organizations across the industries. The conventional branding is no more effective. No branding strategy can make out for voids in the chain of product cycle from idea to after sales service. The modern brand warfare calls for closer customer contacts; adding value at every stage of customer experience.
1. Realigning branding strategy across functions with top down approach:
The CEO is the most effective brand execution manager in the organization. Every function needs to realign with corporate branding strategy. It flows top-down from CEO to the front line personnel. Great companies’ deliver the brand promise with every function aligned to it.
Companies like Apple Inc. strive to add value at every point to deliver the promise that its brand makes to customers. Steve Job’s uncompromising approach in delivering unmatched brand experience has taken Apple many notches ahead of its competitors.
2. Employees as brand ambassadors and staunch believers:
Aligning everyone with branding strategy is time-consuming but will pay dividends in long run. Employees are best media for branding. Marketing one thing, with your employees’ belief in something else is a sure recipe to disaster. It takes something deeper to become a brand advocate who believes in it from the core of his heart. Every employee in your organization must become hardcore advocates of your brand.
Happy employees shape great brands; hence the branding endeavor has its roots somewhere else, seemingly unrelated to branding itself. The organizations that solved this puzzle enjoy the fruit of proud employees wearing great brands on their sleeves.
3. Regular and deeper engagement with customers:
Deliver what you promise. Every touch-point with customers is opportunity to make or break the brand. Customers meeting your sales guy, seeing your media message, interacting with your customer care function, using your product, advocating or deriding your product; every stage has a promise to be fulfilled.
The higher the perceived quality of engagement, the trustworthy the promise is; the better the brand fare in the minds of the customers.
4. Share and open up the brand:
Unlike yesteryear, branding is not a one-way lane. However, more the customers get involved in the brand building measures; more connected they feel to the brand. Open up the brand for deliberations at various platforms. Within the boundaries of social media and customer forums, exists the wave which can play vital role in building the trusted brand.
The brand managers need to engage, listen, absorb, share consumers ideas in order to build the branding strategy. Customers are no longer to be seen as a mere transactional target, but a source of inspiration and creativity which keep your brand alive.
Your every action shifts your branding key to the positive or negative directions. As a marketing manager and brand manager, you must understand that your millions of dollars spent on branding goes down the bin when a shabbily dressed sales representative fails to communicate and reflect awesome brand promise in front of the customer.
Its holistic approach which works. Organizations who understand the key, prospers with their brands delivering on promise, consistently.
Article Courtesy: biztekmantra.com