Protecting Your Brand Against All Threats
You've been feverishly hammering away to create a memorable brand that resonates with your customers and differentiates your product from your competitors. You meticulously built the right strategy, unrelentingly crafted a hypnotizing story, and painstakingly developed your product with attentiveness, ingenuity, and grit. Nice work. Now get ready…
You're ready to welcome your customers, take the orders, and maintain your marketing strategy, but are you prepared to defend your turf?
Yes – you must be ready to protect and safeguard your brand build.
When it comes to your brand, you need to take an oath, similar to the Oath Of Allegiance for the United States, which states: "I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic."
The same concept applies to your brand. The foreign "enemies" are well known; they are your direct and indirect competitors (not truly enemies, just groups competing for the same or similar business). The domestic "enemies" are not as easily identified and are not purposefully trying to harm you; they are your employees. Take a closer look.
If you've really built a successful brand, your outside competitors are going to come after your ideas to say "me too, me too" and grab a part of that market share, so be sure to have the proper legal protections in place like trademarks, copyrights & patents. Consult with your agency and legal counsel about these and other legal products to protect your small business and hard-earned intellectual property.
Your employees genuinely desire to excel at their job and deliver your brand's promise. The question is, do they really know and understand what that means? What does it sound like? Look like? Feel like? Do they really know what they are there to do? Or has your onboarding process been negligent in properly preparing your employees to become true brand ambassadors? Our experience shows that, more often than not, the employees have not received the proper brand training required to develop a world-class brand.
Case in point - years ago, I was asked by a developer to visit a destination resort that included a full-service spa and many other amenities on its grounds. The assignment was to experience as many amenities as possible to report on the experience. Wanting to do it all, I booked a facial treatment for the full experience. About three-quarters of the way through the service, the esthetician stopped the treatment, leaned down, and quietly whispered, "I will be right back. I have to go to the bathroom." I immediately thought, "great, and I cannot wait for you to return and place your hands all over my face." She meant to do the right thing, but this was clearly a miss. If this employee had been trained right, she would have known the proper response and how the brand would want her to react.
So how do you ensure that your employees are ready for the challenge of delivering branded experiences?
You develop thorough and extensive branded operational procedures (SOPs). These step-by-step outlines will set the expectations for your staff, show them where they can improvise, and provide them with the desired outcome for that particular situation. Note that I stated, "branded operational procedures." Your brand standards must be implemented here, so your staff knows that every detail counts. There is no point where your brand does not apply, including your back-of-the-house operations.
If it is consumed by any of your stakeholders (customers, employees, etc.), it should be branded, so use your fonts, colors, tone of voice, etc., to ensure that the story is being told throughout. Once you have these SOPs written and perfected, you need to teach, train and coach your employees on them frequently. They should be part of your onboarding process and day-to-day operations with all staff. Role-play, discuss, revise and practice, practice, practice. It really is the only way to Carnegie Hall.
Obviously, I am taking a tongue-in-cheek approach to this article's "enemy" concept. Still, I think it is vital that you consider all aspects of your operation if you attempt to build a great brand. Building a brand story is like painting the world's largest bridges; the effort must never stop to do a stellar job. You have to nurture, tend to and protect it every day. Make sure that your efforts are equally focused both internally and externally.