Institutionalizing Brand In Your Organization
What we often forget is the importance of looking and listening inward. Keeping an organization in tune and on script with the evolution of its brand and communications is critical to ensuring a consistent customer experience and an engaged workforce. All the more important for we travel marketers, since experience is our business.
A few ideas on how infiltrate brand throughout:
Know your consumer mindset. Then hire it.
We've all moved beyond simple demographics when defining our target audience. Psychographics and behavioral measures have added layers of texture getting us to understanding the consumer's mindset as opposed to simply acknowledging their gender, age and ethnicity as factors in why they buy us.
If this mindset predisposes a consumer to engage with our product, imagine what having employees who share it would do. It pre-disposes them to be brand lovers, and what company doesn't want its work force to be among its strongest advocates and devotees? ? With this in mind, I've seen two previous clients, one a destination and one a hotel, revise their hiring protocols to screen candidates based not only on work experience but on affinity to the qualifiers of their target prospect mindset. Both saw customer satisfaction scores increase in the area of service and overall experience. Ritz Carlton may have "Ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen"; this approach means at the least we can have enthusiasts serving enthusiasts.
Make sure everyone understands the difference between advertising and brand.
This is probably the single biggest source of frustration between the marketing department and the rest of the organization. How often have you heard people complain about misuse of the brand within one-off pieces of communication? So make it simple -- teach and re-teach that the brand is something you live every day. While it evolves, it doesn't change dramatically and the standards that govern it should be clear and infiltrate the organization.
Advertising, on the other hand, will change. While always staying true to the brand, advertising is meant to incite a specific action to solve a particular business need. As those needs change, so does the advertising that supports them. Sharing new work with your organization, and the strategy behind it, can help educate on the consistent brand elements, the variable advertising elements and the difference between them.
But even more valuable, by sharing the work internally you can also provide guidance on how elements of the communications can be filtered into each employee's daily interactions with customers. From the front desk to the 800 number hold script, website live chat to your Twitter feed, connective threads from your communications can create a more consistent and satisfying end-to-end brand experience.
The elevator speech.
Speaking of consistent brand communication, how would you define your brand given two minutes? Now imagine asking that question of five different people from five different departments in your organization. How much would their answers vary?
It's our job to take those hundreds of pages of target and positioning research that we've done, and all the marketing decks we've written, and boil it down to a palatable few lines that simply answer the question, "What is [insert your brand here]?" It gives everyone the same information to coalesce around and, again, allows for consistency for those interacting with representatives of your brand at every touchpoint.
Publish Brand FAQs internally.
With everyone working at the speed of light these days, it's sometimes hard to reach someone in the marketing department for answers to simple brand and marketing questions. One of my current clients, who is building a hospitality brand from scratch, addressed this issue by creating a Brand FAQ document that addresses the core questions they are asked the most.
The document provides an easy reference for basic brand and advertising information and also provides a roadmap for who owns what so if questions still exist they can be directed appropriately. A simple idea, but extremely effective in both lessening miscellaneous inquiries and getting the organization aligned on basic brand principles.
These are just a few ideas, but all with the same aim -- engaging your organization in the active and proper management of the brand, by aligning them with the core principles of your brand promise and positioning.