More and more achieving overall brand success depends not only on market facing initiatives but also on how well the brand is managed internally within the organisation. We believe the following five factors are key to effectively executing strategic brand efforts within an organisation:
1. Corporate governance.
As with almost any initiative or project within a business organisation, strategic brand management requires visibility for its success. It is paramount that a brand department sits in the corporate organigram as to facilitate easy access to the company’s Top Management. This sends a clear message of its organisational importance and role to the rest of the company’s departments and functions.
2. Leadership buy-in.
Top Management should fully understand and champion the strategic role brand plays as a business management tool. It is the responsibility of this group to transmit this belief to the rest of the organisation otherwise success will be difficult. Top Management should act as the brand’s greatest ambassador and promoter not just to external audiences but also, or more importantly, to its own employees.
Corporate visibility and leadership buy-in will be of little help without the adequate resources needed to execute brand initiatives. Apart from a thorough planning and execution strategy, the key to ‘healthy’ resource allocation is to obsessively link branding initiatives to business objectives demonstrating that the outcome goes far beyond ‘logos’ and colours. Sure, this is a challenge but it’s necessary to truly make the difference.
A common mistake made by brand teams is to communicate with the rest of the organisation using industry jargon. The attempt to convey the relevance of brand management through conceptual and vague language only contributes to the unfortunate yet common belief that branding is full of hot air. Only when making the extra effort of discussing brand in practical and actionable business terms will we engage the rest of the organisation in its cause.
The brand’s success is not determined by the actions of a few but by the vast majority of the employees who make up the organisation. Hence, the brand must become part of the organisation’s authentic, daily life and culture. This can only be achieved by incorporating the brand’s values and principles into the employees’ performance evaluation system, which is key in influencing and directing their behaviour.
6. Structures and processes.
Employees will find it much easier to follow the brand guidelines if the structures and processes of the organisation are ´on-brand,’ that is, aligned with the purpose and principles of the brand. Achieving this is admittedly a daunting task that requires a holistic organisational change effort that will only be successful if led by Top Management and coordinated by brand experts in business transformation.
Fernando Ortiz Ehmann