I think it’s fair to say that few people understand brands, but brands are what drive a business these days, they sit at the heart of a modern organisation providing both internal and external focus and driving efficiency.  Building a powerful brand community and leveraging it is a major undertaking.  It requires everyone in the organisation, without exception, to be involved and committed, but above all it demands disciplined and organised process.  So why aren’t transformation managers and brand builders a more common partnership?

Regardless of whether they recognise or leverage it, every business has a brand.  It’s an inevitable product of their words and actions and, even if they don’t recognise themselves in the mirror, its not going to change the fact that this is how the marketplace sees them and that’s what counts.  A key component of any brand is its “promise”.  This is the expectation that people have of it based on the evidence of those words and actions and that’s what drives business.

I run a programme for businesses called Brand Discovery.  It does what it says on the can – helps businesses discover their true self and pin-point their promise.  It’s a bit like holding that mirror in front of them and saying “Yes this is you”.  However it doesn’t stop there, Brand Discovery goes on to help them, leverage their brand, bringing it to life wherever it appears.

Think of your brand as your business’s personality.  In both BtoB and BtoC environments buyers make purchase decisions in the same way as they choose their friends.  If you think your purchase decisions are rational, think again.  However rational you think you are being a purchase is an emotional, primal, right-brain decision.  You buy something because it makes you feel good, its just that convention dictates that we use rational arguments to justify our choice, so we do.  We choose our brands because we feel we know and can trust them to behave in a way we can predict (We don’t want nasty surprises) and “trust” is the operative word.

Building trust takes time and the key to acquiring it is absolute consistency.  Everything you do and say has to be consistent, both with your brand promise and with your every other word and action.  Along with a host of other give-away personality traits, that means the quality, style, function and price of your products or services, the channels you distribute them through, the experience the customer has and the way you talk about what you do in your advertising and communications.

Once you buy into this concept you will appreciate how understanding their brand will often give an organisation an entirely different perspective on everyday functions and actions in every area of their business.  From product development to accounting practices, everything has some influence, direct or indirect, on the view the world outside your office building has of you and therefore on the success of your business.

The first stage of my Brand Discovery process produces a list of business processes to be brought into line with the brand promise.  We start making this list by asking key managers to name simple changes that they can make in everyday aspects of their job that will make their work more consistent.  Then it’s a case of making that happen.

Taking a new and more structured approach to brand can require an organisation to re-invent whole areas of their business.  It can rarely all be tackled at once of course, it takes time and it has to be choreographed and executed in an organised.

So many brand development programmes fizzle out after the initial euphoria of the self-discovery phase, mainly because the implementation demands skills that most businesses and even few brand consultants have.  I don’t hear brand developers talk much about transformation management, but it has an essential role in bringing a brand to life.  Like the Fred and Ginger of the business world, when the focus of a brand expert leads and a transformation manager struts his/her stuff the result can only be good for business – faster completion, no time-wasting and an overall more robust solution.

Phil Darby
November 27, 2013

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