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Successful Branding Strategies and Your Internal Audiences

Successful branding strategies incorporated with your human resources policies can have profound effects on your company’s competitiveness. In the late 1980s, the now defunct Eastern Airlines promoted the idea that they worked to “Earn its Wings Everyday.” Unfortunately, during this time, the company was undergoing significant labor union issues, and many of the employees were disgruntled. Rather than providing the superior customer service that the brand claimed, the airline lost luggage, cancelled flights and served some of the worst food in the airline industry.

By contrast, Southwest Airlines has grown and prospered over the years without compromising its brand position, due in large part to the culture, attitudes and behaviors embraced by its employees. From booking to ground staff, luggage handlers, pilots and attendants, everyone seems to understand their role as brand ambassadors, fulfilling an important promise to customers.

One of the lessons that Southwest’s success and Eastern’s demise teaches is that a branding strategy must connect to and be reinforced by staff education, internal support and company culture.

A successful company should focus on converting promises into behaviors.

Human Resources directors are the front line in hiring quality employees companywide, and should therefore be involved in major rebranding or marketing strategy decisions. If employees are not educated about and inspired by the company’s branding strategy, corporate identity and company values, they are less likely to deliver on the promise of the brand. Employees who understand, and are motivated by company objectives are more likely to promote the brand and contribute effectively to the overall corporate identity.

Employees are what bring customers back.

IKEA has built their business philosophy around providing a superior customer experience, offering service that is customer-oriented and personal. This in combination with attractive, inexpensive furniture, has made the company a consumer favorite, It is no secret that customers are more likely to keep coming back if their experience is positive. In Ikea’s case that experience begins with the in-store visit, which is made unique through a combination of innovative product, engaging displays, and helpful people. To achieve better customer loyalty, it is essential for Human Resources to recruit and train employees who are or who become advocates for your brand, and who also understand how their actions reinforce the company’s corporate identity.

Human Resources can provide internal and external alignment

By focusing on internal audiences as key stakeholders in any branding strategy, your company will promote an environment of loyalty to the brand that can help set you apart. Externally, perceptions of products, services and brands are often a direct result of employee attitudes; if those who make and sell a product, or create and provide a service believe in the branding strategy, the customer is more likely to as well. Harley-Davidson can boast an impressive 45 percent loyalty rate among current owners, and many of them say their loyalty is directly related to the connection they have with the employees at their local Harley dealer. Even among non-motorcycle owners, Harley-Davidson has a high level of loyalty – a significant percentage of revenue comes from the sale of clothing and other branded items. This type of aspirational following is a hallmark of success for any brand.

Your company brand is only as good as your people; they should be willing to live your brand, whether it is newly formed or part of a rebranding effort. For more information on what we can contribute to your branding strategy, please contact us.

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Corporate Brand Architecture and Brand Strategy

A critical and often underappreciated discipline in marketing is brand architecture, which are the defined relationships of a company’s brands to each other and to the corporate brand.

When new brands are created, sometimes they’re just added to a company’s portfolio without clearly thinking through the long-term ramifications of their impact. Whatever your brand architecture strategy may be, it’s critical that you consider how you can manage, and market, all of the brands in your portfolio.

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Corporate Identity and Branding – A Reality Check

Some people believe that “image is everything” when it comes to corporate identity and branding. Others think “identity” begins and ends with a logo.

The reality is, both are important, and corporate identity and image have a critical role within brand marketing strategy. Branding consultants are a great resource when designing your successful branding strategies.

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People Cannot Be Enthusiastic About What They Cannot Understand

understand your audience When establishing your corporate identity and branding platform, clarity and focus are paramount – successful corporate identity programs convey their brand messages clearly, concisely and coherently. A strategically focused brand and messaging platform helps connect your brand with its audience. Simply put, your audience cannot become or remain enthusiastic about your products or services if they don’t relate to them meaningfully (brand experience), and your internal teams and external agencies can’t build effective, engaging and cohesive brand communication programs if they don’t tie back to a clear positioning and messaging platform.

Engaging your audience
To help your audience understand and care about your brand, you must find innovative ways of engaging their time and attention. But, accomplishing this coherently across many different touch-points can be challenging. Here are four interrelated and critical areas that your corporate identity strategy should address:

1. Clear Positioning
As a company or brand, uniquely defining who you are, what you do, and why you matter to your most important audiences lays the foundation for your corporate identity strategy. It sounds rudimentary, but many lack discipline on this critical step and as a result their corporate identity is fragmented, inconsistent or undifferentiated.

2. Cohesive Visual Identity
In today’s market, success is difficult without a comprehensive visual branding program. From your name and logo through to online and offline communication programs, telling your organization’s story consistently through visual design enables your customers to recognize and find your brand, across every touchpoint and through every medium.

3. Effective Communications
Many factors come into play when developing your corporate identity and brand marketing strategy, but one of the most important remains connecting your brand to your audience. Name recognition alone is not enough for your audience to understand and relate to your product or service. Listening to and understanding your audience will help you develop clear, consistent messages and a strong foundation for compelling communications.

4. Understanding the Medium
Delivering the right message to the right person at the right time through the right medium is much more than just broadcasting the same message everywhere. Understanding the context where the conversation occurs, from corporate communications, advertising and sales materials through to social media and brand experiences, is as important as what you are saying.

Successful corporate identity and branding programs develop meaningful relationships based on mutual trust and understanding with your target audience. Marshall Strategy is a leader in developing corporate identity programs that are built to last. To learn more about how you can better engage your audience, contact us.

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