Brand teams used to operate in a command and control fashion. Brand guidelines were tightly controlled, rarely updated, and the rules were rigid and inflexible, rooted more in giving orders than the innovation and autonomy offered today.
It’s an outdated model, of course, but it did have the advantage of consistency, aided by the fact that it was only intended for a handful of designers and agencies– all considered expert users. Today, things work a little bit differently. Organizations are highly decentralized and matrixed – an imperfect product of the positives of organizations doing more things with more people involved, and teams having more independence from leadership due to niche skill sets and varied functions.
Bottom line: more people are using the brand with less oversight.
Learn more: Abandon Digital Asset Management – It’s time for Brand Asset Management
Your employees don’t understand your brand
If anyone with a marketing budget can activate the brand in their work in a way that’s focused on their individual goal, brand consistency can easily go out the window – especially when a team’s growth goals come in direct conflict with the brand standards set by the corporate brand team.
Take, for example, a team striving for that comes up with a new product innovation idea that they believe will sell more with a stand-alone name. What happens when if the overall brand architecture is based on an enterprise brand strategy. Without brand oversight, accountability or proper brand training, they’re going to create a name that they believe will help them achieve their goals, even if it’s counter to the established strategy. The last thing on their minds is brand consistency, and they’re unlikely to want to consult with the corporate brand team who may force them to use the corporate brand, or slow down the approval process for ‘exceptions’.
A power struggle ensues after the brand team discovers that a new name has been created. Whether or not that team is forced to fall in line with the brand standards varies greatly. But increasingly we see the business unit who has to deliver on the P&L winning out, even if it’s at the detriment of the brand’s long-term equity, which is tough to translate to a metric that a CFO can understand.
Increasingly, we are able to quantify the value of consistency. According to research b Lucidpress., organizations who present inconsistent branding are missing out on a 23% annual revenue boost
Moreover, brand teams are striving for more than adherence and consistency. They want every employee to understand, live, and breathe the brand.
There is a desperate need for a paradigm shift in the way organizations think about the brand and present it to their workforce. A Gallup poll found that 41% of employees don’t know what their company’s branding really is. With fractured employee communication, siloed brand teams, and the constant pivoting of the post-COVID era, this really shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Learn more: Better, faster, stronger brand management
From brand acquiescence to brand advocacy
So where do you start? Talk to any corporate brand leader and they’ll likely tell you the brand police – the ones enforcing the “rules” (no, David, you can NOT use Comic Sans in the OOH campaign) – is dead.
Instead, leaders need to attack the problem at its source by rebuilding the relationship between the employee and the brand while changing the perceptions of the brand police. This translates into education, self-service, and the infusion of company values into everything you do.
Ultimately, brand teams need to be more human. Here are three key areas where they can start.
Brand your onboarding process – literally
Organizations with limited brand training put the full charge of brand responsibility on a small circle of marketing and brand leaders. Training typically spent on brand guidelines, messaging, and identity applications misses the mark on sharing the context of the brand, which ultimately turns brand into a set of rules (remember Karen?) versus a thoughtfully curated identity.
Including brand training in onboarding is an opportunity to keep your brand relevant and top of mind for the folks that bring it to life every day – your employees. It’s a critical part of a brand’s long-term success, connecting a brand’s meaning to the people who steward it on a day-to-day basis, ultimately reducing the burden on brand and marketing teams while creating a more consistent brand experience.
As Speaking Human illustrates, “Investment in Brand Training will pay off for your company in a number of ways: It will amplify the power and clarity of your message, enhance your brand perception and generate more loyal customers. Those benefits will work to boost your business in the here and now and strengthen your brand moving into the future.”
Imagine a sliding doors-like scenario of an employee with a warm introduction to the brand in onboarding, versus an onboarding experience without it. Understanding the brand, its values, and its promises inspires hungry new employees to apply the same level of care and diligence as they build their own relationships with the company.
In the case that that same employee is not exposed from day 1, at best they robotically adhere to the brand police. At worst they go rogue, leaving customer confusion and chaos in their wake (Comic Sans).
The BEAM brand center allows organizations to synthesize the brand onboarding process by helping you build dynamic brand assets, trainings, and guidelines for teams to introduce the brand to new employees. BEAM takes the brand from a collection of documents no one reads on a virtually dusty internal server to a storytelling experience to excite and ignite teams company-wide.
Hit the road
Successful brands come down to the connection and relationships they’re able to build with constituents. Naturally, if you can foster these relationships person-to-person, the brand will come to life in a much more dynamic way for your audience.
Consider taking your brand on the road in the form of a brand roadshow. By providing people to meet, areas to explore, and things to touch, you have the opportunity to break through the physical barriers separating your brand from your customer and build brand loyalty in a way that’s impossible without real in-person connection.
Make the brand accessible
As a brand leader, your job comes down to making the brand as accessible and human as possible. That means removing any obstacles that could prevent your employees from adopting the brand as a core part of their work. This includes reducing jargon, personalizing brand assets by role, and offering self-serve templates employees can customize for different situations.
BEAM is equipped to be your partner in your journey to foster closeness between your brand and your employees. By serving as your virtual brand concierge, BEAM has proven to increase employee engagement and brand consistency, saving organizations time and dollars in the process by:
- Showing employees how they play a role in brand marketing, thus serving as a reflection of the company’s culture
- Designing a brand ecosystem as a single source of truth for inspiration, engagement, and jobs to be done
- Gamifying brand as a rewards system for exemplifying brand in customer interactions
- Encouraging thought-leadership and amplifying the voices of employees
Learn more: Linking brand to results: How, when and what
As the Head of Brand at Bloomberg states, “… we approach every discussion with enthusiasm and a sense of optimism… it’s how you sell people on wanting to take the trip with you”
When employees become brand ambassadors, employee satisfaction improves because your team understands and is excited about the mission they further in their work every day. Not only does this lead to better employee retention, but also more and happier customers, who are granted invaluable human experiences with your brand.
Interested in learning more? Reach out to us here.
RECOMMENDED READING: What’s Your Brand Governance Style? Moving Beyond the Brand Cop