I’m continually amazed at how often we in the marketing profession, and those in business, assume that brand development has to be expensive! This misnomer is honestly come by, though, because in good times, it’s easy to spend a lot of money on updating your brand image. But having cash ready to spend isn’t a prerequisite to creating an amazing brand. What is a precondition is a willingness to roll up your sleeves and do the hard work involved in brand development.
You can drop a boat-load of cash on flashy new signs, reprinting all your collateral material, producing new television ads and other ego-related brand displays. But the real work of brand development comes down to how you’re living your brand message every single day, from the top of your organization to the cashier or call center operator. Getting everyone on the same page about what your brand stands, how it behaves, and how it treats your customers, non-customers, and the community is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to branding. Not surprisingly – this is the heavy lifting.
In my previous post, Branding by Walking Around, I showed you how to examine your brand from your customer’s point of view. Once you’ve done that it’s time to start creating the brand you want on display. The place to start is by demonstrating the behaviors you want your employees to model. Want your customers greeted the moment they walk through the front door? Make sure that when you’re on the floor – you are welcoming them the time they walk through the door. Your employees are paying attention to you, whether or not you think they are. And you greeting customers the time they walk through the door – over and over again, will send a not-so-subtle message.
Once you’ve been modeling the behavior you want to see for a while, notice whether your employees are modeling that same conduct. If they are, be sure to acknowledge it in front of other employees. If you have employees that are routinely ignoring customers, it’s time to pull them aside and privately share with them your expectations for the experience you want your customers to have.
Next, engage your employees in brainstorming other ways your brand position can be extended. It will take you being able to articulate what you want your brand position to be (check out these posts if you need help here). And it will take your passion around your brand position to convince them that you’re serious. So share it – ask them for their input – then be quiet and take notes. It may take your group a while to get rolling, but you being quiet and waiting will cause someone to speak up. Reinforce the idea, and try to remember no idea they come up with is a bad one, it just may not be part of your vision. That’s OK, this is brainstorming, even those “not-so-great” ideas can spin into a fabulous idea.
Be prepared to implement at least one idea from your staff’s brainstorming session tomorrow. That will let your employees know that you value their input and will make them more likely to help you create your brand in the future. Be sure when you implement the idea that you give credit to the person who came up with the idea.
By diligently making sure your internal and external practices align with your brand position you’ll be doing the heavy lifting of rebranding. Once the economy improves and you have cash to burn again – then go out and buy new signs, television commercials, and collateral material. You will deserve it because you did all the hard work already.