Straight Talk On Branding II

Brad VanAuken The Blake ProjectFebruary 3, 20072202 min

I began sharing my thoughts on the topic of developing a brand building organization about  a week ago and I’m quickly realizing I have much to say. Here’s my second installment on the subject…

More and more companies are focusing on a corporate brand for a few very good reasons:

•It is much more efficient to build and market a corporate brand than a large portfolio of separate product brands.

•The corporate brand may be the most valuable asset (outside of employees, many would argue) that the company owns.  To be good corporate stewards, a company’s officers are increasingly realizing that they must maintain, build and leverage the corporate brand.

•A strong and differentiated corporate brand gives a company instant credibility and permission to operate within appropriate new product categories.  It can become a powerful growth driver.

As a company moves from a product brand focus to a corporate brand focus, its executives must lead a paradigm shift in how the enterprise is managed to succeed in this endeavor.  It is no longer enough to have a brand manager or advertising department develop the brand positioning and the advertising campaign.  While establishing brand identity standards and systems is an important element of brand management, it also falls far short of what is required.

Brand visionary David Aaker posed this very important question when he visited Hallmark Cards a few years ago: “Until everyone from your CEO to your receptionist can accurately and consistently articulate your brand’s promise, how do you expect your customers to?”

Kristin Zhivago captured the concept well in an article that she wrote for Business Marketing.  She said:

“A brand is not an icon, a slogan, or a mission statement.  It is a promise – a promise your company can keep.  First you find out, using research, what promises your customers want companies like yours to make and keep, using the products, processes and people in your company.  Then you look at your competition and decide which promise would give you the best competitive advantage.  This is the promise you make and keep in every marketing activity, every action, every corporate decision, and every customer interaction.  You promote it internally and externally.  The promise drives budgets and stops arguments.  If everyone in the company knows what the promise is, and knows that they will be rewarded or punished depending on the personal commitment to the promise, politics and personal turf issues start to disappear.”

Certainly the brand promise drives your marketing communications and your brand identity standards and systems.  But it must do much more than that.  Your products and services, every point of contact your brand makes with consumers and the total consumer experience your brand creates must reinforce your brand’s promise.  This has tremendous organizational implications.  How can an organization deliver against its promise if its front line employees don’t know (or care about) what its brand stands for?

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Brad VanAuken The Blake Project

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