How to align your internal culture with your brand idea

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

Your brand idea should steer the internal culture to inspire and steer everyone who works behind the scenes of the brand. Brand leaders must manage the consistent delivery of the brand idea over every consumer touchpoint. Everyone should be looking to the brand idea to guide and focus their decisions. More companies need to focus on their internal brand, to make sure management, customer service, sales, HR, operations, or an outside agency are all moving in the same direction.

Align your five consumer touchpoints

Five main touchpoints reach consumers, including the brand promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment, and consumer experience. Regardless of the order, they reach the consumer; if the brand does not deliver a consistent message, the consumer will be confused and likely shut out that brand.

How the Internal brand stretches across the five consumer touchpoints

  • Brand promise: Use the brand idea to inspire a simple brand promise that separates your brand from competitors, and projects your brand as better, different, or cheaper, based on your brand positioning. 
  • Brand story: The brand story must come to life to motivate consumers to think, feel, or act while establishes the ideal brand’s reputation to be held in the minds and hearts of the consumer.
  • Innovation: Build a fundamentally sound product, staying at the forefront of trends and technology to deliver innovation.   
  • Purchase moment: The brand idea must move consumers along the purchase journey to the final purchase decision.
  • Consumer experience: Turn the usage into a consumer experience that becomes a ritual and favorite part of the consumer’s day.  

Marketing your brand to employees inside your own company

The best brands consistently deliver. When you build your brand idea, I recommend you use a cross-functional team, including salespeople, R&D, human resources, finance, and operations. Their participation is one way to gain their buy-in. But that’s not where it stops.

Use your internal brand communications tools to drive a shared definition of the brand idea. Get everyone to articulate how their role delivers that brand idea. Give the external and internal brand story equal importance to the consumer experience you create for your brand.

Everyone who works on the brand should use the brand idea as inspiration, and to guide decisions and activities across every function of your organization. It is the people within the brand organization who will deliver the brand idea to the consumer. Everyone needs a common understanding of and talking points for the brand.

When you work on a brand that leads to the customer experience, your operations people will be responsible for the face-to-face delivery of your brand to the consumer. Develop a list of service values, behaviors, and processes to deliver the brand idea throughout your organization.

Ritz-Carlton Case study: A culture of Impeccable service

Ritz-Carlton does a lot of things right to earn the high prices they can charge for the best locations, beautiful rooms, excellent beds, and incredible meals. But in reality, every luxury hotel has beautiful, luxurious things to offer. Ritz-Carlton focuses its attention on delivering impeccable service standards to separate the brand from other hotels. What Ritz-Carlton has done so well is operationalize it so that culture and brand are one.

One idea Ritz-Carlton talks about is meeting the “unexpressed” needs of guests. As marketers, even with mounds of research, we still struggle to figure out what our consumers want.

However, Ritz-Carlton has created a culture where bartenders, bellhops, and front-desk clerks instinctively meet these “unexpressed needs.” Employees carry around notepads and record the expressed and unexpressed needs of every guest, then they use their instincts to try to surprise and delight these guests.

Employees are fully empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for guests. Unique means doing something that helps to separate Ritz-Carlton from other hotels. Memorable forces the staff to do something that truly stands out. And personal is defined as people doing things for other people. Is that not what marketers should be doing? So what is getting in your way?

Radars on, antenna up

Ritz-Carlton bakes service values right into its culture. The Ritz-Carlton phrase used with its staff is “Keep your radar on and your antenna up” so everyone can look for the unexpressed needs of their guests. These could be small wins that delight consumers in a big way to treat every guest as unique and special. But like any hotel, things do go wrong.

When a problem does arise, the staff is encouraged to quickly brainstorm and use everyone’s input to turn a problem into a potential “wow” moment for their guests. Every staff member is empowered to deliver high service levels; each employee is allowed to spend up to $2,000 to solve a customer issue, right on the spot. They do not even need permission from a manager.

Legendary Ritz-Carlton service story

Here is a fantastic story that makes its way around the Ritz-Carlton world. A guest who had just left the hotel called to say that their 3-year-old son had forgotten his stuffed giraffe in their room. The parents said their boy could not stop crying. The only thing these distraught parents could think of to tell their son is that the giraffe was staying on vacation a little longer. So the staff found the giraffe and overnighted it to the boy. Most luxury hotels would have done that. But that was not enough for Ritz-Carlton.

Knowing the story the mom had told their son about staying on a bit longer, the staff also included a photo album of the giraffe’s extended stay, including sitting by the pool, getting a massage in the spa with cucumbers on his eyes, and working out on the treadmill. Imagine how the parents felt and the signal it sends to them about what to think of the Ritz-Carlton staff. This type of “wow” story has become legendary within Ritz-Carlton and is often told within the Ritz-Carlton pre-shift meetings around the world to inspire staff to deliver.

Your brand credo document can inspire your culture

Having spent time at Johnson & Johnson, I was lucky to see how their credo document has become an essential part of the culture of the organization. Not only does this internal brand permeate throughout the company but you will also likely hear it quoted in meetings on a daily basis. It is a beautifully written document and ahead of its time. 

What you need to create a brand credo document

  • Start with your brand idea and turn it into an inspiring promise statement, which explains to your people how they can positively impact your customers.
  • Use your brand’s core point of difference to outline the expectations of how everyone can support and deliver the point of difference. For instance, great exercise is to get every department to articulate their role in delivering the brand idea.
  • Connect with your people by tapping into the personal motivation for what they can do to support your brand purpose, brand values, and core beliefs. Make it very personal.

This type of thinking is in my book, Beloved Brands

Learn how to think, define, plan, execute and analyze

You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies.

  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. When it comes time for the analytics, 
  • I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

You can find Beloved Brands on Amazon, Kobo and Apple Books

Take a look at Google’s inspiring new office space. Imagine the impact of this crazy space on your Brand’s output

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

abd76f7c-f9ac-497f-ad9c-12b5c2310de7HiResWhat does the design of an office space have to do with a brand?   If you get to the mindset where you start to think of your people as your brand, then where they work, how they work and creative energy they bring to their work matters more than the widget you are selling as a result.  Great Brand Leaders should be looking at the culture as an opportunity to win in the market place.  No matter how good your promise is, if your company is not set up to deliver that promise, everything comes crashing down.  The brand story told within the company is even more important than what you might tell the market through your advertising.  Managing organizational culture is very challenging.  As you move along the Brand Love Curve from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and on to Beloved status, you need to make sure the culture keeps pace with where the brand is.

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When I started working back in the mid 90s, I worked for General Mills where we had this confined area where we must have jammed around 15 offices and another 12 cubicles for our department.   iStock_000000707086XSmall-e1279431675643The cubicle walls were an ugly turquoise, almost falling down, some stained, and we had just enough space for a chair and computer.   There’s no way this atmosphere inspired any creativity.  In fact, in such a drab atmosphere, it crushed any good ideas.  It was pure cubicle hell.

For a few decades now, companies have been getting more and more creative with their office space.  It started with “cute” names for meeting rooms, then went to “crash zones”, then to funky chairs.  Google has taken this to a new level with the launch of their new office in Toronto.  As you look at these photos, I urge you to take some of these ideas as possible inspiration for your own office space.

The center point of most company culture’s starts with the cafeteria.  Here’s what Google

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Taking a modern approach to the old diner booth, these set up great spots for a quick informal meeting.  

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To inspire creativity, Google takes Play to the next level, with a pool table, video games a tent for meetings and a putting green on the roof top.  

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To watch a video of the new Google Toronto office space, watch below.  

 

 

What I want to do is challenge Brand Leaders to start to think of the people on their team as the core part of the Brand, even if you have a patent.  As brands struggle to find their competitive advantage and uniqueness, maybe it will come from your people.  

The Better your People, the Better the work.  And the Better the results you see.  

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 Do you want to be an amazing Brand Leader?  We can help you.  

Read more on how to utilize our Brand Leadership Learning Center where you will receive training in all aspects of marketing whether that’s strategic thinking, brand plans, creative briefs, brand positioning, analytical skills or how to judge advertising.  We can customize a program that is right for you or your team.  We can work in person, over the phone or through Skype.  Ask us how we can help you. 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

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Brand = Culture: How organizational culture can help your brand win

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Most people think that that Brand is what the Marketers do. And Culture should be left to the Human Resources department. But in reality, everyone is responsible for both Brand and Culture. Creating a Branded Culture might be a great chance for Marketing and HR to be working together, and find ways to involve everyone from the Brand. The new Brand Leader has to understand that marketing is more than just TV ads and more than just Facebook likes. Brand is about the experience that consumers walk away with. If I am going through the drive-through at 4am or on the phone with customer service or getting an email with a Visa “special offer” from the Bank where I have my Visa, I am in constant judgment of your brand.  

5 ways that brands connect

Brands are able to generate love for their brand when the consumer does connect with the brand. I wish everyone would stop debating what makes a great brand and realize that all five connectors matter: promise, strategy, story, innovation and experience. The first connector is the Brand Promise, which connects when the brand’s main Benefit matches up to the needs of consumers.  Once knowing that promise, everything else feeds off that Promise. For Volvo the promise is Safety, for Apple it is Simplicity and FedEx it might be Reliability. It’s important to align your Strategy and Brand Story pick the best ways to communicate the promise, and then aligning your Innovation and the Experience so that you deliver to the promise. To ensure the Innovation is aligned, everyone in R&D must be working towards delivering the brand promise. You don’t create a new brand promise based on what you invent.  If someone at Volvo were to invent the fastest car on the planet, should they market it as the safe-fast car or should they just sell the technology to Ferrari. Arguably, Volvo could make more money by selling it to a brand where it fits, rather than trying to change people’s minds. As for the experience, EVERYONE in the company has to buy into and live up to the Brand Promise. As you can start to see, embedding the Brand Promise right into the culture is essential to the brand’s success.      

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It starts with the Brand DNA

Everything in the company should feed off the Brand DNA. The Brand DNA (some call it the Brand Essence) is the most succinct definition of the Brand.  For Volvo, it’s “Safety”, while BMW might be “Performance” and Mercedes is “Luxury”. The Tool I use to determine a Brand’s DNA revolves around the Brand’s personality, the products and services the brand provides, the internal beacons that people internally rally around when thinking about the brand and consumer views of the Brand. What we normally do is brainstorm 3-4 words in each section and then looking collectively begin to frame the Brand’s DNA with a few words or a phrase to which the brand can stand behind.  

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The DNA helps guide the Brand’s Management

The Brand DNA should help frame 1) Brand Plan that drives the business for the upcoming year or the next 5 years 2) Brand Positioning that connects to the consumer through marketing communications 3) Customer Value Proposition that links the consumer needs to the benefits of the brand 4) Go-To-Market strategy that frames the distribution and the selling process 5) Cultural Beacons that help define the brand internally through values, inspiration and challenge and finally 6) Business Results, with each brand offering a unique way that it makes money. Each of these six needs feed off the Brand DNA, look to the definition as a guideline for how to align to the brand.

When you begin to blow this out one step further, you can start to see where the complexity comes into play with each of the six areas have their own needs that should still feed off that Brand DNA.

 

The DNA sets up the Brand Values

Great Brand Leaders should be looking at the culture as an opportunity to win in the market place. No matter how good your promise is, if your company is not set up to deliver that promise, everything comes crashing down. The brand story told within the company is even more important than what you might tell the market through your advertising.

Managing organizational culture is very challenging. The DNA should provide an internal beacon for all the People in the organization to follow and deliver the brand promise. As you move along the Brand Love Curve from Indifferent to Like It to Love It and on to Beloved status, you need to make sure the culture keeps pace with where the brand is. 

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While the DNA can provide the internal beacon, it might not be enough to capture all the behaviors.  Brand Values should come from the DNA, and act as guideposts to ensure that the behavior of everyone in the organization is set to deliver upon the Brand’s promise. How do you want your people to show up? What type of service do you want?  How much emphasis on innovation? What type of people do you want to hire? What behavior should be rewarded and what behavior is off-side.  Having the right Brand Values will help you answer these questions. The Brand Values become an extension of what the Brand Leader wants the brand to stand for.

A great example of Brand Values is the Virgin Group of Companies defines what  each value is, but also what it shouldn’t be. I love that Fun means enjoyment but not incompetent and Value means simple but not cheap.

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The Right People leadership matters

Having values is one thing, but the other component of Culture is the right  people leadership.  Use the values to help people deliver upon the right behaviors, skills and experiences. Leaders must embody the Brand’s DNA and live by the values. Employees will be watching the Leaders to ensure they are living up to the words on the wall. Leaders need to believe that by investing in their people, the business results will come.  Better people produce better work and that drives better results. Talent management means hiring the right people and providing the right training. Too many companies are skimping on training and development, which is equivalent to cutting back on your R&D.   

Every communication to employees, whether in a speech or memo, should touch upon the Brand Values, by highlighting great examples of when employees have delivered upon a Brand Value. Leverage values, with inspirational touch points and processes to inspire and challenge them on achieving greatness. The culture will only change when everyone makes the decision to make the change.  

Brand Leaders should look to culture as an asset to make your Brand Experience more powerful.  

 

To download a copy of this article and share with your team, you can find a pdf version at (good for airplane reading): 

Do you want to be an amazing Brand Leader?  We can help you.  

Read more on how to utilize our Brand Leadership Learning Center where you will receive training in all aspects of marketing whether that’s strategic thinking, brand plans, creative briefs, brand positioning, analytical skills or how to judge advertising. We can customize a program that is right for you or your team.  We can work in person, over the phone or through Skype. Ask us how we can help you. 

 

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