A strong brand drives growth when customers see its promise delivered. But our recent study showed that two-thirds (67%) of marketers believe their senior leadership teams fail to fully embed their company's identity and values throughout their organisation and relationship with customers. As such, marketers feel that opportunities are being lost and brand is not being utilised to its full potential. But how can senior leaders address this problem and integrate the brand across their business?
Our Brand Experience report suggests that senior business leaders often view brand merely as a communications concept, rather than something that needs to permeate throughout the organisation. This lack of understanding and buy-in has a damaging effect on customer experience, and that directly impacts business performance. Marketing is not just about the external selling of products or services, it is about creating an influential and trusted brand experience that must be delivered across every consumer touchpoint. I believe it is crucial that business leaders take responsibility to ensure that their company’s values are integrated across the organisation, to help ensure that the identity of their brand isn't superficial.
This is important for both large and small businesses. One SME that successfully achieves this is herdy, who create gift, homeware and accessories inspired by Herdwick sheep and support sustainable rural community projects through the herdy fund. Co- founder Director of herdy, Spencer Hannah, strives to ensure that brand is integrated throughout his company and believes it’s a necessity for senior leaders to not only present the importance of the brand vision, but to live it, breathe it and make it one of their top priorities.
In practice this means recruiting people that show a passion for the herdy way of being. The herdy brand has a familial concept, in fact they refer to herdy employees, customers and social communities as the herdy family. In order to maintain this family atmosphere, Spencer holds weekly informal meetings where everyone has an opportunity to share what they are working on and their strategy. This ensures that the herdy brand vision is aligned across the company and provides senior leaders with an opportunity to engage and hear the views of members of the team and make sure they feel that they are working towards a common goal.
Based on the findings from our Brand Experience report, we've pulled together easy-to-apply recommendations for how business leaders can implement brand and truly unlock its potential to drive value for their business.
- Make sure it starts at the top - Agree a clear mandate for brand within your business, and invest time in gaining consensus on this. Make sure the brand lives and breathes across all departments. Lead by example and other staff will follow.
- Gain clarity around the brand promise – work with your marketing team to translate what your brand vision means in practice across each area of your business. Regular communication both internally as well as externally is essential so customers are aware of what to expect and staff know what must be delivered.
- Allow the brand to permeate through the organisation – develop partnerships between your marketing and HR teams to integrate the brand into company culture and change initiatives. This can be implemented in various ways, from featuring as part of new staff inductions, to supporting recruitment and attracting the right kind of talent into the organisation. Brand champions and ambassadors should exist across the organisation, and not just in the marketing team.
- Create space for brand to be in the right conversations – consider what your marketing team can bring to the table across your wider business. This may include customer insight, market or competitive intelligence, as well as brand performance data. Brand performance should be a topic of conversation at board meetings and a regular discussion for senior leadership teams.
- Establish more meaningful measurement – encourage your marketing team to collaborate with finance, IT and customer service to develop a dashboard of useful metrics to actively track and understand how brand is being delivered across the customer journey. If all teams sign up to this, then all should work together to deliver on it.
By Steve Woolley, Head of External Affairs at CIM