A killer logo and a beautifully designed website? Check. A creative company name and tagline? Check. But those are only the surface elements of a company’s brand. If a business is going to live up to its reputation, it has to deliver its brand promise from the inside out.
A beauty queen can shine in an elegant gown and tiara, but her appeal fades quickly if she’s a chain-smoking, heartless idiot. Similarly, a company might have the coolest image in the market, but the entire operation has to deliver on the promise the brand has made.
Brand Promise Defined
A brand is the essence of a company. It includes the company's voice, image, personality, and greatest strengths. A brand promise is the delivery of that brand. The promise is the expectation, set in large part by the company’s brand, that the customers have about the company.
For instance, if a private investigator company has branded itself as a fast provider of reliable information, the brand has promised clients that the company will perform its investigations quickly and thoroughly, and that the staff will deliver comprehensive reports in a timely manner. If the firm doesn’t deliver, it has essentially broken its brand promise and lost that client forever.
Keeping Your Promise
Many marketers and brand strategists focus on developing a brand that attracts attention and sets them apart in the marketplace. To ensure that companies deliver on their brand promise, they must efficiently organize different aspects of their business. Without that organization, a company could very easily break its promise.
Customers may never know what goes on behind the scenes of a company, but a company’s operations can have a huge impact on whether the company can deliver on its brand promise. For instance, if the brand is based on fast, reliable service, the company will have a hard time meeting that expectation if its supply chain is slow or inefficient. Moreover, if a lot of money is spent to make up for that lost time, the company won’t stay in business long enough to strengthen its brand.
Companies that are able to prevent operational mishaps are those that have an efficient operational workflow. It’s impossible to have a successful operational workflow without establishing---and enforcing---a clear process for manufacturing products, acquiring materials and supplies, and delivering products and services to the customer. Communication between departments is essential for the process to run seamlessly.
Creating an efficient workflow process is irrelevant if it’s not maintained and improved over time. Performing regular audits and quality control sessions to make sure everything is up to speed determines whether a company is properly delivering on its brand promise. A feedback loop is beneficial for supervisors and workers as it pinpoints any slow spots or problems. A feedback loop also gives employees the opportunity to offer suggestions for improving operations and delivering more efficiently.
While the executive team is developing a company brand promise, customer service reps and sales associates are the ones implementing it. Many companies have failed because they promised service with a smile, only to turn off customers with employees who were uninformed and slow to act at best or rude and inattentive at worst.
Reps must be properly trained before communicating with customers. Running floor or phone drills that teach reps how to handle difficult, indecisive, or overly inquisitive customers helps to ensure that they aren’t making a promise they can’t keep. When reps are able to sufficiently answer customer questions on the spot, productivity and trust among customers go through the roof.
Communication is the key to a successful business operation. Therefore, the most successful companies are those that develop a communications strategy. A successful communications strategy serves as a common voice among everyone, from the president and CEO to entry-level workers, that requires everyone to talk with the same tone of voice, talking points, and key marketing messages. A consistent voice reinforces a company’s brand.
Neither the operations nor the customer service arms can perform without properly trained employees. Employees are responsible for making sure that operations and customer service are staying on track. Therefore, employees must know what that track looks like. All too often, new employees are thrown into the job without really understanding the business or the brand. Unless they understand their role in both, they’ll never be able to meet customer expectations.
To ensure that everyone is on the same page, successful businesses hold regular company events. Those events can range from orientation for new employees, to events thrown for a specific department. The reason for annual or biannual meetings or conference calls is so everyone can hear company news from the company leaders and not the gossip mill.
Not all employee events revolve solely around the job. Even the most loyal employee can get glassy-eyed from all the corporate jargon. Improved staff morale---and productivity---occurs when companies show their employees appreciation with holiday parties, company outings, and other fun events.
People can look great on the outside but still have problems that affect their overall health. The same is true for a company’s brand. No matter how great a company looks on the outside, the only way it can truly come to life is if that company is delivering on its brand promise from the inside out.