Becoming Brand-Driven: A Cure For What Ails You


The key difference between the terms "brand management" and "management" is the term "brand." Here, we use it to refer to the intangible value added by the customer's feelings toward the organization--a combination of awareness, trust, loyalty and positive identification. While visual and verbal symbols matter (the logo and the tagline), they are only a limited expression of the entity.

Yes, Marketing Is Management -- and Vice Versa

  • Branding is everything: Because customers include everyone who deals with the organization, branding actually encompasses all facets of operations.
  • Cutting costs matters: The point of branding is to add value. You want to find and leverage value where it lives while minimizing time spent on wasted efforts. 

5 Symptoms of a Problem

    1. Employees are there for the paycheck only. Morale is poor. They're disengaged, unenthusiastic, inexplicably angry. 
    2. Executives manage upward well, but have lost touch with the customer. They tend to deny negative feedback. They do not have a clear understanding of results. When something goes wrong, it's everyone else's fault but their own. 
    3. The organization seems to drift. It goes from initiative to initiative with no real anchor or compass.
    4. Innovation is stagnant. People are afraid to share new ideas or important feedback. Collaboration is discouraged.
    5. Team members struggle to imagine what the organization might look like in the future.  Privately they wonder whether it might even go extinct. 

    3 Things That Need To Happen To Get Back On Track

    1. Alignment: The business strategy must affect the behavior of employees on a day-to-day level. The two should move in lock step at all times, but they're also fluid. If you change the strategy, behavior changes and vice versa.  
    2. Ruthlessly customer-centric: The brand-centric organization is by definition customer-centric because the customer is the entire reason that the organization exists. As such, if any aspect of operations detracts from the customer experience, it is either excised or modified to the maximum extent possible. 
    3. Employees first: The brand at its core is about intangible value. This kind of value is created, produced consistently, and improved upon by human beings. As such, they are the primary audience (even though they appear to cost money). 

    How To Institutionalize It

    • Top-down and side-to-side: In order for branding to work, the head of the organization must take the lead, supported by a committee of senior executives.
    • Clearly defined roles: The job of the leader and the committee is to jointly determine what the brand stands for, establish what that means in terms of practical day-to-day operating principles, and create a structure within which people can “live the brand” within the structure of their jobs. 

    5 Things To Put In Your Brand Manifesto

    Brand structure starts with a "manifesto." It is a sacred document, an organizational Constitution, and defines:

    1. Vision: What difference do we seek to make in the world?
    2. Mission: How will we make the vision happen? 
    3. Values: What do we truly believe, on a serious and deep level, that informs and affects every aspect of the work that we do?
    4. Rules of behavior: What do we expect from you, and what can get you kicked out of town?
    5. Accountability measures: The brand makes a promise, and accordingly its key stakeholders are given certain rights of redress. What are those? Spell it out. These measures should include the general principles of compensation that the organization applies.

    The brand is about something higher than a specific product or service. As such, it does not need to get into a laundry list of competitors. 

    Culture, The Secret Weapon

    There is no way to "write down" your culture, but without knowing what this "secret sauce" actually is, the organization is doomed to fail. 

    When you make crystal clear who you are and why you stand on this Earth today, this enables people at all levels of the organization to make simple decisions quickly and identify complex matters requiring the engagement of others. 

    When you make the brand truly accountable, people are free to interact with it, knowing that their rights are protected by an organization that says what it means and means what it says. 

    Proof of Concept

    How do you know your brand has gotten better? Over time, the strategy yields fruit. Employees are proud to be associated with it, they are proud of their good work and they are proud of the people they work with. The air you breathe feels clean, safe and productive. And in a way that seems very natural, the organization regularly parts ways with people and projects that aren't a good fit, while building on the success of others.

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    Posted July 25, 2018 by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. This document is released by the author into the public domain. Creative Commons photo via Wikipedia