It's HR in Retail month on HRZone! We're focusing on all things retail - check out our HR in retail hub to read all our great content!
A brand needs to be an identity, internally and externally, that shapes an organisation and its services. Therefore, the concept of brand needs to be present, not just within the marketing department but integrated across the business, starting with the senior leadership team, amongst all staff and through its customer service.
I believe a strong brand drives growth when customers see its promise delivered. Brands need to exist with the customer in mind and every customer needs to receive the brand experience originally intended.
In Chartered Institute of Marketing’s recent Brand Experience study, we found that more than three-quarters (77%) of marketers feel their senior leadership teams have a high impact on the delivery of their brand promise through customer experience. Yet, only half (52%) believe these same teams have a strong understanding of their role in doing so. Here lies the obstacle.
Two-thirds of marketers believe that their senior leadership teams fail to fully embed brand values throughout their organisations and relationships with customers.
On the surface, marketers tell us brand is a priority for their company, but dig deeper and this looks worryingly superficial. Many report not delivering consistently on their brand promise, and that leaders within the business often don’t understand what brand means for their teams. Less than half of marketers feel employees, at all levels, understand the vision and direction for their organisation. This indicates that many businesses need to go back to basics and implement brand within their business culture, ensuring that all staff are speaking and acting in a unified manner - a brand needs consistency.
For brand to be fully embraced by the business, those at the top need to lead by example. For a company to integrate brand and truly understand its value, the motivation really needs to come from the boardroom. Yet currently, two-thirds (67%) of marketers believe that their senior leadership teams fail to fully embed brand values throughout their organisations and relationships with customers.
We've pulled together easy-to-apply recommendations for how business leaders can implement brand and truly unlock its potential to drive value for their business based on the findings from our research.
1. Make sure it starts at the top
Agree a clear mandate for brand within your business and invest time in gaining consensus on this. Make sure the brand lives and breathes across all departments. Lead by example and other staff will follow.
2. Gain clarity around the brand promise
Work with your marketing team to translate what your brand vision means in practice across each area of your business. Regular communication both internally as well as externally is essential so customers are aware of what to expect and staff know what must be delivered.
3. Allow the brand to permeate through the organisation
Develop partnerships between your marketing and HR teams to integrate the brand into company culture and change initiatives. This can be implemented in various ways, from featuring as part of new staff inductions, to supporting recruitment and attracting the right kind of talent into the organisation. Brand champions and ambassadors should exist across the organisation and not just in the marketing team.
4. Create space for brand to be in the right conversations
Consider what your marketing team can bring to the table across your wider business. This may include customer insight, market or competitive intelligence, as well as brand performance data. Brand performance should be a topic of conversation at board meetings and a regular discussion for senior leadership teams.
5. Establish more meaningful measurement
Encourage your marketing team to collaborate with finance, IT and customer service to develop a dashboard of useful metrics to actively track and understand how brand is being delivered across the customer journey. If all teams sign up to this, then all should work together to deliver on it.
Marketing is not just about the external selling of a companies' products or services, it’s about creating an experience that can be communicated through all customer touchpoints. For me, it’s really important that all staff, led by senior leaders, take responsibility to ensure that their company’s values are incorporated across the organisation and to help ensure brand is unlocked to its full potential.
Steve is head of external affairs for CIM and a keen advocate for CIM's unique role in developing the profession to benefit the economy and society. His role is centred around looking outwards and making links to add value, with particular emphasis on government and thought leadership.