When you think about branding, what do you think about? A name? A logo? A portion of the budget sitting in your marketing department?
You’re not wrong, but branding is much more than that. The thing is, we tend to work in silos. Someone looks after production. Another one is responsible for logistics. HR. Finance. Then there is Sales and Marketing. And that’s where most people would place branding.
But look at it from another perspective: your customer’s perspective. When they look at it from the outside, what do they see? Ideally, they see one brand. They don’t know – and often don’t care – that the people who order the uniforms of your staff are different from the ones getting your lorries painted. And that the sales people are not the ones deciding about the logo.
So from a brand perspective, you need consistency. Because you don’t want to confuse people. If your advertising and maybe your social media presence (you do have a social media presence, right?) tells one story on what your brand is all about, every encounter where the customer meets the brand needs to support that story.
We call these points touchpoints – the points where the customer touches the brand. Of course logo and naming are important (if you change the logo, change it everywhere at the same time, even if you still have some spare business cards or letterheads), but every point of contact – on the phone, in emails, in person, in sales materials, on your storefront, your lorries, your uniforms – needs to tell the same story.
Why? Because if it doesn’t, people will be confused. If the advertising talks about the friendly, listening brand but the customer service is rude, you are losing trust. Consumers won’t believe your story any more, they will think it’s just an advertising invention but not true to everything you do. And they’re probably right.
This is why branding can’t just sit within the marketing department – it needs to sit with the CEO of the company. Because here is where everything comes together – from marketing to sales, HR to purchasing, production to logistics. If the CEO has a good understanding of what the brand stands for, only he or she can spot inconsistencies and have the power to correct them.
But the CEO alone cannot carry the brand – everybody in the company has a role to play in that. The one salesperson that stands behind the counter or shows up at the customer’s place for a sales call may be the only touchpoint the customers see. So their impression of the brand depends on that one person they interact with. That’s why it is important that everybody in your company understands what the brand stands for and what positioning it tries to achieve. And not only must they understand it – they must believe it and buy into it. In our next chapter on Internal Branding, we will explore some of the techniques on how to train your staff and enable them to be ambassadors for your brand.