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…
When it comes to your brand, you need to take an oath, similar to the Oath Of Allegiance for the United States, where it 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 competitors (not truly enemies, just groups competing for the same business). The domestic “enemies” are not as easily identified, and they are not purposefully trying to harm you, they are your employees. Take a closer look.
If you’ve really built a spectacular 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 that will protect your hard earned intellectual property.
Your employees have a genuine desire to excel at their job and deliver the promise of your brand. 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 on-boarding 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 as well as many other amenities on its grounds. The assignment was to experience as many of the amenities as I could to report back on the experience. Wanting to do it all, I was booked into a facial treatment for the full experience. About three-quarters of the way through the service, the esthetician stopped the treatment, leaned down and gently whispered “ I will be right back, I just have to go to the bathroom.” My immediate thought was “great, 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.
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 needs to be implemented here as well 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 on boarding process as well as your 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 the “enemy” concept of this article but I do think it is vital that you consider all aspects of your operation if you are attempting to build a world-class brand. Building these brands is like painting the world’s largest bridges; to do a stellar job, the effort must never stop. You have to nurture, tend to and protect it everyday. Make sure that your efforts are equally focused both internally and externally.