Being a branding and design agency in Atlanta for over 20 years, we have heard too many stories of companies spending lots of money on developing their new brand only to feel like they have yet to benefit from their investment. Their rationale is that the brand was never on point when the main culprit was their employees unknowingly undermining their branding efforts.
Is this your situation? Not sure? Well, here are a few questions that may bring some clarity:
1. Does your team understand what REALLY makes up your brand? And better yet, do you?
Is your logo your brand? Nope. Your logo visually supports your brand. Your brand is the promise you make to your key audiences. A brand is an experience customers have with you and what they would share about you if they recommended you to a friend. This experience creates brand loyalty. Logos and colors don’t do this. And note we said audiences. Plural. Just as much as you have a brand for your clients, your brand also is critically essential for staff acquisition, retention, and partner allegiance.
While a well-designed logo, a good name, and an informative website are critical elements for building your brand, they are just the beginning and often a small part of your customer’s brand experience. As your customer’s journey continues, they will likely engage with additional marketing materials, view social activity, read newsletters, talk with your sales team and maybe watch your videos. Each of these touchpoints builds the narrative for your brand. If you’re not managing them, your brand is being created without your control. And if those branding opportunities are not aligned, your potential customers will be confused.
2. Is your team aware that they are part of your brand?
Every step of the brand journey is managed by various teams or individuals. While the number of players may be less in smaller companies, those individuals are usually taxed with many other responsibilities that stretch them very thin. To address this issue, we have created a document to help identify the brand journey of your customer and note which individual is responsible for which step. Important to remember: Be sure to consider the brand journey beyond acquisition or the sale. A happy customer is often your best advocate, and your continued correspondence needs to be just as consistent as it was before.
3. Could your staff communicate what your brand stands for?
After you have identified the controlling parties of your brand, ensure they are aligned with some form of documented brand foundation. We provide our clients with a brand platform book detailing their brand’s critical components (mantra, vision, mission, brand essence, etc.), their audiences’ key concerns, and recommended methods to connect with them. In our opinion, this is where most branding agencies fall short. They do an amazing job at defining and building the brand but hand over logo assets and a style guide to the team with no instruction about managing it across multiple marketing channels.
Want an example? Let’s look at Tom’s recent journey to buy a new exercise bike.
Like many of us, Tom has put on a few pounds as he has gotten older. So, he decided to purchase an exercise bike for his home. Tom jumps on Google and searches “best exercise bike,” and the journey begins.
First, Tom’s search results expose him to various kinds of bikes. He reads many reviews, watches a few videos on YouTube, and decides to look further into a Peloton bike.
From there, Tom goes to the Peloton website and is immediately exposed to their brand elements — logo, messaging, photography, and website design. While this sets up what the brand is all about, this is just the beginning of the journey.
From that point, Tom continues to be exposed to the brand through downloadable resources, e-newsletters, retail locations, printed marketing materials, onsite sales team, and customer support.
Then he continues to experience the brand through follow-up correspondence and digital re-targeted ads as he uses his computer’s browser. Once it’s all said and done and he has purchased his new bike, Tom’s journey has easily exposed him to the brand a dozen times beyond the initial logo and website. And, very likely, each of those exposures was managed by a different person or team.
As you can see, a brand has many opportunities to lose focus or get scattered.
Take a step back and look at your customer’s journey. Think about how many opportunities they have to be exposed to your brand. Is your website, collateral, sales team, support team, and social messaging all marching to the same beat? Are the key players who manage each of these items aware of your brand’s intended focus and even what the other stakeholders are doing?
No matter how much you spend or how much effort is put into creating your brand, if it is not brought to life correctly and managed well, it’s like taking a matchstick to a pile of cash. It’s a very incestuous cycle that never stops. Branding agency after branding agency creates new brands to “fix” the mistakes of their predecessors. When, in actuality, there really was never a mistake. While the client received the keys to their fancy new sports car, they were unfortunately never shown how to drive or maintain it.
While having the right brand is critical, equally important is having your team aligned on how that brand should be embraced and executed. All too often businesses fail to realize all the opportunities they have to make a branding impression outside of their website and initial marketing collateral. It’s key to understand that your customer’s journey is the backbone of your brand. Understanding this and managing the entire customer journey will increase your ROI on the investment you made and help you stand head and shoulders above your competition.
And who wouldn’t want that?