Building a Bridge is “The Way” to a Stronger Brand

(This is the first in a series describing an innovative brand building process known as internal brand building and how it is being used by organizations to leverage the unique strengths of “the organization’s way” to become and sustain being the brand of choice in their markets.)

Marketing executives and their peers on the leadership team can agree on the competitive advantage and superior financial performance that comes from being the brand of choice. After all, being known as the brand of choice is the marketplace’s recognition that an organization delivers on what is most important to the marketplace better than all other competitors. As the brand of choice, organizations are rewarded the highest level of customer loyalty; an ability to charge higher prices; enhanced profit margins; and extend their brand to successfully launch new products.  Everyone can agree that these marketing advantages are the platform for growth and industry leadership.

However, there can be a difference of opinion between marketing leaders and operating executives of what it takes to be the brand of choice.  Operating executives believe that becoming brand of choice is 90% excellent execution of the organization’s activities and 10% marketing. In some industries the ratio is even more lopsided, with marketing given cursory credit for building a strong brand.  Marketing leaders have a much different take on the relative contributions of building a strong brand.  This disjointed view of brand building undermines an organization’s efforts to be the brand of choice.  Conversely, a common perspective and integrated effort unleashes the brand-building potential of all the organization’s activities.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

Operating executives believe the source of becoming and sustaining the brand of choice resides deep in the fabric of the organization’s culture – the unique qualities of the culture (“the company way”) is the source of its brand differentiation.  From an operating executive’s perspective consistent operational excellence of “the company way” is the most potent brand strategy. What keeps operating executives up at night is the absence of a practical process to keep an organization’s culture focused on applying its unique strengths to deliver what matters most to customers.

Marketing leaders have a different, but related perspective on what it takes to become the brand of choice. Starting with a viable competitive advantage, marketing leaders believe becoming the brand of choice is the result of the excellent implementation of a set of sophisticated marketing techniques. Marketing professionals believe they are able to sustain the preferred brand status as long as the organization maintains its powerful competitive advantage. Even more confidently, marketing executives believe she/he can build a brand that can overcome temporary lapses in the culture delivering on its commitments to the marketplace. As an organization’s competitive advantage and customer-focus begin to wane for a longer time, marketing professionals start losing sleep. The thought of trying to put lipstick on a pig is every marketing professional’s nightmare.

Implementing an integrated brand-building process that connects the brand inside of an organization with its brand outside in the marketplace will address the concerns of both executives and boost an organization’s brand-building power. Internal brand building is a new brand-building model that connects the brand on the inside (an organization’s culture) with the brand on the outside (the organization-customer connection).  The two-part focus of internal brand building begins with creating and sustaining an authentic, personal connection between employees and “the company way” and directing that alignment on making a difference for customers. Internal brand building is the new “brand math” that can yield exponential brand-building results.

In this series I will provide you with a practical understanding and framework of internal brand building that we have been using with our clients for more than 10 years.

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