Living The Brand

Some brand ideas transcend the marketing department to create deep business impact. And some don’t. What’s the secret to tapping the full power of your brand and weaving it into company-wide strategy and operations? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

  • We’ve written about Brand a few times this year—its history and the way its so often misunderstood. Its troubled relationship with CX. Its sometimes messy collisions with politics and social change.
  • It’s a topic that’s never not interesting. To us, at least.
  • Our current preoccupation is brand operationalization—the challenges and benefits of turning your brand into something learned, lived and leveraged across the entire organization.
  • We’re talking here about corporate brands, not product brands (which typically do their work on store shelves).
  • Corporate brands are bigger things. They encapsulate the essence of the organization and what it stands for.
  • A corporate brand isn’t just aimed at customers. It’s embedded in “everything that a company’s vendors, employees, and board members touch.”
  • And ideally it’s closely aligned with the business strategy.
  • Get it right and the upsides are substantial: “It serves as a north star, providing direction and purpose. It can also help firms recruit and retain employees, and provide protection against reputational damage.”
  • One more small detail—it can help your business significantly outperform the market.
  • But, of course, getting it right is easier said than done. The potential hiccups here are many. Let’s consider some of the most common.
  • First, brand remains is a slippery concept—difficult to clearly define and understand.
  • A second (related) challenge—many CEOs don’t pay enough attention to brand.
  • Finally, brand strategies are too often communicated to employees poorly. Think: top-down, vague and generously laden with hubris and buzzwords.
  • So what’s a marketing leader to do?
  • It starts with the strategy development process. Don’t cook it up behind closed doors. Involve staff and stakeholders from all corners of the org. Give people a voice and help them understand what brand means to them.
  • Speaking of understanding—define unfamiliar terms early and often. Strip out the jargon and use tangible language. And don’t let compromise kill clarity via too much group wordsmithing.
  • We also like this advice from Jennifer Layton: “Recognize or reward employees for living the brand. This means you infuse it into performance and compensation programs.”
  • Of course, this level of operationalization requires a strong ally in the CEO.
  • This may feel daunting, but think of it as an opportunity. When marketing leaders take the lead in championing the power of brand, it demonstrates the breadth and depth of the value marketing can bring to the table.
Issue #132
Dec 5, 2021

Further Reading