This image should come as no surprise to anyone who has visited a burger restaurant. The carefully crafted photograph on the right, with the plump bun, carefully manicured filling and soft lighting is a far call from the reality of the product many of us are served - shown on the left.
Large organisations employ consultants like us to create beautiful brand experiences for them, carefully crafted, plump and manicured, approved by board members and management teams and hailed as being ‘right for the company’. However, this is only the beginning.
As one client mentioned to me a few months ago, it is great that you have created a wonderful brand for us, thank you. You have considered every angle and positioned us for the future, but how am I going to be sure that the brand my customers meet, is the brand you have created for me. Herein lies a perennial problem for corporations around the world. If you are a brand builder and are being hounded by your management team about this issue, believe me, you are not alone.
We all talk about Brand Experience as being the next big thing, and it is. However, as consultants, we have a responsibility to help our customers to deliver what we create for them. A Brand Promise is part of this. It is not always that simple, not everyone understands the power of Brand. So the first challenge is to educate your staff that every detail matters, help everyone, from the Tea Boy to the Chairman to understand what it means to be on-brand. How you answer the phone, how you deal with a complaint, how you help your customer understand that your product is designed to help them. Every detail matters - this becomes the practical embodiment of your Brand Promise.
In some organisations, this means changing the culture of the organisation from the inside out. In Banks, this may mean changing front-line staff, switching from the old mind-set, to a service oriented mind-set, thinking like a retailer.
I once met a GCEO who believed in the power of a Brand Promise and Culture Change to drive his brand forward. His mantra was ‘reliability’. His organisation had suffered during the financial crisis, customers lost their trust in his organisation and he was challenged by his shareholder to turn this around. He focussed on every detail in creating an environment of reliability in his company. Starting with the basics, answering the telephone in a professional way and getting back to people when you say you will, an understanding and empathy with customers who are traumatised and a passion to resolve their issues professionally. He, with us, defined what ‘reliability’ meant to every individual in his organisation... for instance, he made everyone greet guests personally at the company reception, and following a meeting, he insisted that the most Senior person in the room escorted the guest to the exit in a friendly and professional way.
Now, some would say ‘this is frivolous, what impact do these actions have on business - business is all about profit.’ I dismiss this point of view as being ignorant and out of touch with the modern world. Sure, business is about profit, but if you focus on delivery and your business is well run, profits happen. A Brand Promise is at the heart of delivery.
Customers are hard to win, when you have them, you must nurture them, maintain their trust in you and deliver to your promise. The GCEO I mentioned turned around his business, employed happy staff and won customers trust... and guess what happened... the profits jumped.
80% of the work in building a Brand comes after the initial phase of work in creating or evolving the brand. Culture change and brand evolution are delivered from the top. Start there. Great organisations like Orange had a visionary CEO in Hans Snook who believed in delivering on a brand promise, he, with the help of some very smart people in his organisation, built a culture that transcended business and became a lifestyle for so many employees and customers. Hans lead from the top. He set KPI’s for each and every individual in his organisation around delivering on the Brand promise... and, astonishingly to some, these were weighted equally or greater than hard business metrics. As a result of his actions, customers, employees, investors and everyman knew what to expect from Orange, and they delivered every time.
Does having a Brand promise matter?
Yes it does
How important is a Brand promise?
How important is it that everyone in your organisation understands your Brand Promise and lives it every day?
The difference between an average organisation and a great one