Brands up close and personnel

Thanks to Pam Robertson (MW November 2) for highlighting the need to strengthen brand integrity within businesses, especially those where human encounter is a big part of the customer’s experience of the brand.

I would offer a couple of additional strategies to those she mentioned, based on experience.

First, most employees or partners are independent souls. Most, naturally, think that the main aim is carrying out great work for their customers. They see their working life as more than being in service of an abstract idea, such as a brand. We’ve seen a lot of companies fall into the trap of broadcasting the ideas and virtues of the brand “at” the company, with predictably poor results.

To overcome this, the brand, its values and its practices, need credibility. They need to be of the business, not the flotsam of the latest management retreat. They also need to be viable and important to the people in the business. In the words of one client “brand values need to help us make decisions and do the work better.”

Secondly, a brand initiative needs to address the personal effectiveness of managers in leading the people around them. A brand integrity programme is only as effective as the personal sincerity and commitment of the people who maintain it, long after the consultants have gone.

That, even more than the appropriate human resources policies, will encourage your brand to flourish, from the inside out.

Iain Carruthers

Managing consultant

Maritz Communications

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