It is very easy to read a marketing article on Branding and to think that the article addresses “the company”. Certainly every company has it’s archetype – an image of its brand that sits at the core of the company and gives the company a personality with which people can identify. Based on core values and philosophy about life, travel and business, a company archetype fills out the corporate personality and makes it attractive to consumers. The more clearly defined a company’s archetype, the more clear it’s brand.
The most important asset of any company, however, is its people. Branding, ultimately, comes back to the people who make up the company. Especially in a service industry, there is no more critical aspect to the brand than the people who represent it. Whether you are the owner of your company or an agent in a larger organization, you represent your company’s brand in every encounter you have with a member of the public.
Just as the marketing collateral, logo, advertising and other company communications must synchronize with the company brand, so too must its people. Every business owner would do well to frequently visit with their employees to ensure that the company’s brand and core values are well understood and fairly reflected in the employee attitudes about the company. Likewise, every employee does well to frequently evaluate their own personal brand to ensure it is in full alignment with the company. The personal image each team member projects adds to, or detracts from, the company brand.
If there is a gap between the expectations set up by a brand and a client’s actual experience of the brand, only the employees of the company can set things right. Too often, we tend to blame clients for our own failures to set the proper expectations or for shortcomings in communication or execution. In the final analysis, however, it is your responsibility to make the company brand and mission understood and your responsibility for superior execution. There will be occasions where we will fall short in meeting our own high standards. Customer service that is based in a corporate culture of brand awareness can cure almost every other business failing.
Your human assets are where brand maintenance begins and ends, and the best possible place to ensure that your clients will be as fully engaged in your brand as you want them to be.