To turn a brand into an asset that is managed and measured, you need a strategic brand plan. This is harder than it sounds. Many companies struggle to allocate the time and resources necessary to turn big ideas into everyday actions. It’s like trying to move a massive boulder. Where do you begin?
The Brand Experience
A brand is not unlike a stone that is shaped over time by the elements. In geological terms, this is called weathering and it happens very slowly. Fortunately, it doesn’t take millennia to shape a brand. These days, brands come and go at lightning speed. But one thing holds true: the success or demise of any brand is determined by the people who deliver the brand experience day in and day out—whether they are in the executive suite or on the factory floor.
Create a Bite Sized Brand Plan
If everyone in an organization is responsible for the brand experience, then it stands to reason that one single, gigantic brand plan is not only impractical—it’s also unmanageable. A more realistic approach is to create multiple, bite sized action plans that are tailored to specific functional areas.
For instance, your customer service team needs a separate brand plan from your product development group. The plans differ from one another based on the touch points that each area controls. (To learn more about brand touch points, read our previous blog post, “Use Brand Touch Points to Stay on Course.“)
Here are three things to consider when developing a brand plan for different departments or functional areas within your organization:
1. Weigh the impact that the functional area has on your brand image (every area has an impact, either directly or indirectly). Solicit employee participation by asking people to describe their role in building and supporting the company brand. Then incorporate these brand building activities into job descriptions and performance evaluations. By aligning employee efforts with organizational goals, you make brand-building part of everyone’s job.
2. To motivate company-wide participation, designate a brand champion—preferably somebody at the top. He or she should be well respected. He or she should paint a clear picture of where things are headed. Every departmental brand plan should be written within the context of this bigger picture. Whatever you do, do not give people the idea that they are “working for marketing” (unless, of course, they do!).
3. For brand-building to be effective, individual and group behaviors need to change. This requires communication, education and motivation in the form of specific tasks that tie back to personal and/or departmental objectives. These specific brand-building tasks should be accompanied by performance measures that let managers and employees track progress over time.
Brand Belongs to Everyone
While a successful brand strategy requires buy-in and commitment from the whole organization, it is not a one-size-fits-all exercise. You need to educate and energize employees and give them the tools they need to bring the brand to life from the “inside-out.” The result is a brand that stands up to the elements and weathers the test of time.