Everyone in an organization needs to understand the company brand. Everyone. With branding, the phrase “you are only as strong as your weakest link” resonates. Each employee needs to understand that a brand is not simply a consistent logo or color scheme. It is the company’s personality, tone and soul. It is the customer’s experience, feeling and memory. In their book The 22 Immutable Laws of BRANDING, brand management experts Al Ries and Laura Ries write, “What’s a brand? A singular idea or concept that you own inside the mind of the prospect.”
Before a consumer purchases a product, studies show they need to be exposed to a brand an average of 17 times. That’s a lot — and underscores the importance of consistency at every turn. And, although logos and Pantone colors may change, company attitudes and values should not.
A successful brand (think Nike or Apple) is woven through each customer contact point, communication, product and service; and is aligned with every organizational decision. Think emotion as well as emblem. Since Apple’s conception, its brand proposition was to supply advanced, quality, great looking, high performing computers. The company has expanded in ways its founders never dreamed, but its brand proposition has not — resulting in customer loyalty that makes others green with envy. The strength of its brand is so strong that, if Apple were to delve into the auto industry tomorrow, it would have an immediate group of rabid customers.
Demonstrating a true top-down commitment, company Brand Training Programs define the multiple aspects of a brand and help employees at all levels realize the important role they play in guarding its persona. Those of us who are branding experts can provide tools to get every employee (and prospective employee) aboard a company’s “brand bandwagon” and to increase their company pride and commitment. The result is often strengthened marketplace clarity and familiarity. With familiarity comes confidence and loyalty. And, with loyalty comes increased market shares, revenues and decreased price sensitivity. Customers will pay more for a brand they feel never disappoints!
The “father of branding” David Aaker aptly states, “Branding adds spirit and a soul to what would otherwise be a robotic, automated, generic price-value proposition. If branding is ultimately about the creation of human meaning, it follows logically that it is the humans who must ultimately provide it.”