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.