Leading global strategic brand design agency, Enterprise IG, argues that everyone in an organisation is a custodian of a brand.
The debate around who holds the custodianship of a brand is often a battle of wills between the brand design agency, the advertising agency, and the internal marketing department.
Dee Blackie, Johannesburg Strategy Director at Enterprise IG, says the brand promise is ultimately fulfilled by people who deliver the service or offering. "The challenge is to inspire people through insightful and relevant engagements and harness the power of this most critical and often best route to market success," she says.
Enterprise IG has created a Business and Brand Engagement offering which is a strategic and proactive approach to building brands from the inside out.
Most CEO's already understand the vital role of internal engagement and many in marketing communities are now making the connection between behind the line spend and brand health. Watson Wyatt research confirms that companies with highly committed employees have a 112% three year return to shareholders versus a 76% return for companies with low employee commitment.
Kevin Thomson, author of a number of ground breaking books about internal marketing and branding including 'Emotional Capital' and the recently published 'Company Culture Cook Book', is President of Enterprise Business and Brand Engagement. He says, "We are entering into a 'behind the line' partnership to demonstrate to both the marketing profession and the HR community, who have embraced 'employment branding', that the internal market is a fundamental part of the marketing mix. It's not just above and below the line, or even 'through the line' that creates the real differentiator in the market. It is behind the line where everything starts and too often stops. We see a new order inside leading organisations where increasingly the responsibility and budgets for the internal customer are driven by marketing, in partnership with corporate communications, HR or change management."
International research shows that 41% of customers cite staff knowledge and attitude as their key reason for repeat purchases. The primary reason consumers give for feeling put off from purchasing a company's product or service is how they were treated by the employees – ahead of price or quality.
Blackie says branding, at its most basic, is about creating expectations and meeting them. "We are often quick to tell the market why we are better than our competitors, but we forget to tell our employees. The result is that customers have a certain expectation when interacting with the brand, but because we have not empowered our employees to deliver against these expectations, they fall short of the mark and fail to create that all important 'moment of truth'. The customer feels let down by the brand, and the employee feels frustrated and disconnected from the organisation he or she is supposed to represent," says Blackie.
Enterprise IG Business and Brand Engagement is founded on the belief that for a brand to deliver on its promise, the people within the organisation must actively embody it. This requires an understanding of the brand and its vision, an understanding of their role in delivering the brand, and finally, the necessary tools and appropriate behaviour to do this. Brand chartering aims to align the brand positioning with internal staff values, creating understanding and participation to ensure the brand promise is delivered effectively at every level of an organisation.
"It involves creating internal communication and motivation programmes for brand comprehension and entrenchment. This can be achieved by aligning staff performance and management systems with key brand deliverables, and involves designing brand leadership and brand change programmes," says Blackie.
Meaningful change will only happen when people are actively involved in creating something they value together. The key to this is clearly articulating an inspirational vision, identifying the handful of values that underpin this vision, and translating these values into tangible behaviours that are relevant to all employees and practical for the day to day workings of your organisation. "If you can achieve this, the majority of your employees will have a clear idea of the roles they need to perform because the underlying principles of what their brand stands for are absolutely clear," she says.