Ward to the Wise

Reasons Brands Fail: #1 Failure to Launch Internally

number-1-failure-to-launch-internallyBranding is a business strategy. It is not solely a marketing function, though marketing is accountable for communicating it to the outside world. It is not simply a logo. It is not the same thing as advertising. It is a promise and an experience that you and every member of your team delivers to your customers and other key stakeholders. The snazzy look, catchphrase and great graphics draw attention and appeal to your promise, but they are not your brand. Those are simply the beautiful dress your brand wears to catch the eye.

When you think about branding in this way, as a strategic, gap-creating promise from your company to your customers, it is easy to see why so many brand attempts fail. If every one of your people isn’t thinking about how they personally are delivering your brand day in and day out, essentially living the brand at all levels of the organization, it is destined to fail.

This failure to launch internally is one of the biggest reasons why the brand strategy itself fails, which is why it’s number one on our list.

Driving The Effectiveness Of Your Brand Within The Organization

So, how can you ensure your brand is accepted, lived and breathed by your employees – and therefore, actually experienced by your customer? Here are three things you can start doing today to cause brand promise delivery:

1. Lead By Example

For a brand to be truly effective, it must be driven systemically in the organization. Accountability for delivery of the brand promise lies with the top-most levels of leadership. The CEO has to not just talk about the brand, but also live it…and demand everyone else does as well. He or she must communicate the vision for the organization, how delivery of the brand promise fulfills on the vision, and detail ways to get there and take steps to make it happen. Those at the top tiers of leadership must do everything in their power to make sure the employees are held to account for delivering on the promise. The company gives its word. The employees make sure the company keeps its word.

2. Take A Long-Term Focus

All too often we see companies rush their branding efforts to meet a pre-conceived deadline: “It has to be done before our fiscal year budget cycle ends in 60 days” or “We need it for this trade show.” An approach like this is bound to backfire because it puts the focus on the short-term deadline or goals, not the long-term health of the organization. Further, the process is being driven by marketing, not those accountable for the culture of the organization –the C-suite. A brand is a long-term investment. It doesn’t change from year to year to follow the latest trends. It is not a campaign. Take the time to do the strategic, game-changing work, and then get everyone on board. It won’t happen overnight, nor should it. You’re effectively changing a culture. It will take time, so nurture it without ceasing, and you will harvest the rewards.

3. Hold Employees to Account

First, engage employees to be enthusiastic about the vision, the brand promise, their ability to differentiate the company to your competitive advantage, and why it’s in their best interest. Then, communicate that everyone will be expected to deliver on the brand promise. They must speak it accurately. They must be measured at their annual review for how they delivered on the brand-relevant actions and goals set out at the beginning of the year. Reward individuals throughout the organization who delivered on the brand promise inside and outside the organization. If your brand strategy truly has differentiating qualities, and resonates with your key audiences, your people will achieve greater success when they deliver on it. Make sure the rewards are shared.

How’s Your Brand Leadership?

By now, you’re clear branding is a leadership job, supported by internal departments. How are you doing at your role in brand leadership? If you’re the CEO, are you providing the strategic thinking and mandate necessary for the employees to deliver on the brand promise? If you’re in a support role, are you doing everything you can to implement and deliver on the promise the company has made publicly?

Don’t know how to get started launching your brand internally? Or, realize you don’t actually have a strategic, gap-creating, compelling promise your company is known for? You can create a competitive gap with help from Ward. If you’re willing to be coached and are committed to your long-term vision, we can help you achieve the results you intend.

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