So many people judge brand strength solely on the amount of recognition it gets or how well it’s known by name. Those characteristics are merely the icing on the cake, the chocolate over the nougat.
Brand strength comes from the inside and the way organizations:
- Differentiate themselves from the other choices consumers and employees have
- Make decisions about the business and its future
- Engage their employees in the brand’s mission and activation, and
- Think about the value they add and why it’s important.
This topic was part of my address to the International Factoring Association’s Annual Senior Executive Conference in Costa Rica, January 23, 2020. (Factoring is a specialized form of corporate finance.) After my session, one of the attendees came up to me and shared an experience that proves what I mean.
A few years back, this gentleman had acquired another firm and it had been, in his words, a failure, even after a carefully scrutinized due-diligence process. “We looked at their books inside and out,” he said. “We were certain it would work.”
That’s because they did not look inside. They failed to look at the people who collectively formed the brand that drove all those numbers. Apparently, the owners were the only people with opinions, the only ones who made decisions, and the only ones who cared. By and large, everyone else simply showed up every day, did just as they were told, and went home. They just “did.” They did not “think,” and they did not “feel.”
Once the owners were out of the picture, no one knew how to:
- Make decisions in the best interest of the company and the clients
- Talk about what they did in a way that excited clients and each other, or
- Do their jobs in the absence of orders.
Most dangerously, no one cared. Caring is crucial. (Insert shameless plug for my book, Do They Care? The one question all brands should ask themselves, continually.)
Brand Strength, Not Brand Saccharine
Some might argue that those are management failings, not branding failures. They are half right: Those are indeed management failings, but more specifically they are management failing to think about their brand holistically, as more than just what the outside world sees.
Your brand gives your employees the context, motivation, and tools to build a brilliant experience for your customers (and each other). Otherwise, all your customers get is a spoonful of frosting. And not even the sweetest of sweet tooths can live on that.
P.S., Want me to speak at your event? Let me know!