Telling it straight: Brand building

Telling it straight: Brand building
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In the latest in our monthly series that sees Ogilvy put the spotlight on PR, Ogilvy Impact's Lorie Helliwell looks at brand building.

Building brands is an inside job

Let’s talk about how companies can move their corporate brand further, using the untapped power of their own people.

As we know, brands are built on conversation – one customer experience at a time. They can also be destroyed that way. A company’s own employees can help power and protect brands, amplifying the investment made in marketing and advertising, for a fraction of the cost.

After all, most employees want their organisation to succeed and are willing to help. All we need to do is ask, and involve them.

All employees are potential ambassadors, not only those in customer-facing roles. When the customer value proposition and the employee value proposition meet together in authentic, positive and empowering synergy, the sky’s the limit. Employees will willingly share their experience of the brand they work for.

However those employees that come in direct contact with a customer have an additional point of leverage – they represent the time in a brand’s lifecycle when what the brand promises meets or exceeds what the customer expects.

Think about the brands we manage – can we say with confidence that we know how this interaction pans out?

To be clear, we are not talking about customer service – everyone provides that to a greater or lesser degree. What is important is how the brand promise is delivered, how it is experienced and perceived by the customer. Winning brands don’t just deliver superb customer service – that’s a given – they also deliver a superb brand experience.

After all, the customer builds an expectation based on what is promised via marketing and advertising. The moment of truth is when the customer experiences the promise.

For example, when Ford promises its brand will ‘go further’, the customer probably wants to see a salesperson who is innovative and forward thinking, who anticipates their needs and pre-empts their wants. They offer above-market after sales service. They go further.

Talking of cars, let’s ‘Think Holden’. While Mike Devereux tells the Productivity Commission no decision has been made on its future, employees of the car manufacturer can do nothing but think about what their futures hold.

Employees will only deliver if they feel connected to the journey. So, how do you create the intellectual and emotional connection, so your people walk and talk your brand?

1. UNPACK YOUR BRAND BOX TOGETHER
Your people will tell you what tone of voice and behaviours fit the brand; not the other way around

2. NO SURPRISES
If you have a new positioning or activation campaign, share it first internally so your people can complete the experience for a customer

3. IN THE SOCIAL ERA, THE BEST BRANDS ARE SET FREE
Don’t be afraid, let your most connected staff share their branded content with their personal social networks; they’ll be your greatest advocates and have their radars switched on to spot troubles early, helping you manage crises or issues. All brands will have them. The best brands manage them.

So it’s time we recognised and acted on what the research is telling us: building brands begins with employees.

Lorie Helliwell is managing director at Ogilvy Impact.

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