There are a large number of manufacturers who miss the mark when it comes to brand. They don’t look and sound the part. This results in them struggling to “live their brand.”
It’s absolutely critical for a company to live their brand.
Well, companies that live their brand have a distinct competitive advantage over those who don’t.
Buyers are participating in quality brand experiences in their everyday lives, and these brand experiences are a result of companies living their brand. Companies that do a poor job living their brand mislead, confuse, and ultimately lose opportunities to retain and earn customers.
Today, market share is earned by companies that live their brand and deliver authentic brand experiences.
What “Living Your Brand” Looks Like
When a company is living their brand, everyone from top to bottom not only knows what the company stands for (who, what, how and why) but they act it out every day. They have leaders that use their brand strategy and brand identity to inspire a culture. And as a result, everyone in the company is aligned, shares the brands’ values and behaviors, and delivers on a daily basis what the brand promises.
The resulting effect is a brand that knows how to look, sound, and act.
The Power in that Comes from Living Your Brand
Living your brand is the most authentic way to share your differentiation. And what makes you different has never been more important. If you are living your brand, what makes you different is likely to impact the experience your team delivers to prospects and customers. As we like to say, show them what you are made of and the results will follow.
Here are some of the benefits you can expect when you start living your brand.
- An amazing culture that attracts and retains high-quality like-minded employees (shared belief systems).
- Customers that evangelize your brand making it easier to get messages out to your audience.
- Market share that is earned and maintained by your relentless pursuit of consistency.
- A reduced gap between how you want to be perceived by your customers and how they perceive you. This results in an authentic brand experience and earned market share.
- A culture with employee’s understanding their roles and purpose at a deep level giving them a strong sense of belonging. And what they do day in and day out directly and indirectly contributes to the brand experience your customers are demanding.
What Companies Look Like That Don’t “Live Their Brand”
They look desperate, confused, inconsistent, and undesired. They are hard to connect with because their actions are not only uninspiring but inconsistent. The biggest difference is a disconnected brand experience. With everyone not being on the same page, the company looks, sounds, and acts in an inconsistent way. The customer’s perception of you is very different than the way you want to be perceived. This inconsistent experience leads to a bad reputation. This will undoubtedly affect market share.
Curious if your company’s not living your brand? Here are a few symptoms:
- Your mission, vision, and values are covered in dust and are only brought out of the file cabinet when you need to prove to someone that you actually have them.
- When anyone (regardless of their role) is asked for examples of coworkers acting out one of your core values, they not only struggle with examples, they don’t even know the values.
- There are no brand standards for managing your brand, or even if you have them, no one really pays attention to them resulting in varying looks and feels in your marketing initiatives.
- You claim something like “we set the bar in customer service,” yet recent surveys or online reviews indicate your service as being questionable at best.
How to Start Living Your Brand?
You must start with a strong brand foundation (see here if you are in question). But that’s only half of the equation. You’ll need to inspire your employees to act out your core values in a consistent way to properly live your brand. And though there are countless ways to inspire, the trick is to keep it creative, simple and consistent. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started.
- Kick off every meeting with an example of an employee acting out one of your core values. Or better yet, inspire others to act by having an employee recognize a coworker doing so. It’s more contagious if you get the whole team involved.
- Storytelling is a powerful way to connect your core values to your team. This is particularly effective with generational manufacturers that have a rich history to pull from. Review your history and make the connection to each of your values. Sharing these stories make it easier for the culture to visualize themselves acting in similar ways.
- When it comes to recruiting, interviewing and hiring, there is no better way to sort candidates for fit than exposure to your brand’s core values. And don’t just list them in a job description. Be creative by working what they stand for into the copy of your job posts. They also should impact the types of questions you ask during an interview. It’s important to let candidates know what type of person you are looking for and then let the interview process confirm or deny each choice. Once you land the right hire, start them off on the right foot with an onboarding process inspired by your brand’s core values.
- Ask your team what retreat, outing, event, or all employee meeting was the most memorable? The answer most will give is the one that was properly planned and themed. Don’t be random when it comes time to plan and theme these special times with your employees. Look to your core values to inspire your creative thinking. Not only will you make these times memorable, but you’ll also be connecting your culture with your values.
Everyone Must “Live the Brand”, Starting with Leadership
It’s most important for leadership to get it right first and then inspire everyone else to act. It’s the leading by example from leadership that will mold and shape the culture.
Regardless of where you are in the company hierarchy, knowing your role of delivering your brand’s promise creates a sense of belonging. And when you have that, the brand believes in the way it looks, sounds, and acts.
So much so, that it attracts employees and customers that believe the same thing, making it easier to create the long-lasting connections you not only desire but are well positioned to earn.