Importance of Company Brand Alignment
What is ALIGNED branding?
ALIGNED branding refers to the synergy of experience and messaging when interacting with any aspect of a company.
Are all your sub-brands, customer service, social media accounts, distributor messaging, corporate brochures delivering synergistic messages? Is your company brand purpose clear and credible and being communicated clearly? Is your company brand aligned across all touchpoints? And stakeholders, internal and external?
If you answered yes to all of the above then you have an ALIGNED company brand. ALIGNED Branding is corporate branding in a way that all your touchpoints tell a synergistic story to all your stakeholders, emphatically.
Why is it important?
Today brands are built 24/7. And not by the brand managers as much as those who consume the brand, interact and engage with the brand, evaluate the company brand as a (potential/) current employer, write about the company brand as social commentators or the media or the financial press. In short the company brand is whatever anybody chooses to say about it online or in real life.
To top that we live in a world of severe media fragmentation from Netflix to Facebook to WhatsApp to YouTube to hundreds of TV channels out there, we now consume media in a myriad of ways. If each channel tells a different story about your brand, you are at risk of not having a coherent brand.
Last but certainly not the least is the risk of the different departments in a company dealing with different stakeholders, be they the on-campus talent acquisition team to the diversity and inclusion team to the customer serivce team conveying different messages. In today’s world paying attention to this is becoming critical- only synergistic messaging can help build a stronger corporate or company brand.
Does that mean that the custodians of the brand have no control?
Yes and no. Yes, because it can be hard to predict who might take up cudgels with your brand. No, because companies can indeed track and monitor what is being said about the brand across touch points and then influence the associations with the brand. More importantly brands can take a pro-active approach and outline their philosophy and what they stand for. That way should there be a crisis of any sort it becomes more of an opportunity for the brand to reinforce its beliefs and what it stands for.
Today if something takes place in the offline world (used to be referred to as the real world☺) it can truly be amplified thanks to social media.
What’s ALIGNED Branding got to do with purpose?
In some ways the purpose statement is like the company’s ‘big idea’. Purpose helps an organisation focus all its energies to achieve a certain goal or address a certain issue (if actually followed). While in the past a lot of companies were said to exist for improving shareholder returns we now live in a more socially aware and conscious world.
Why is it important for companies to have a social purpose and be seen as ethical?
Customers today want to support companies that do the right thing. As do employees. The world is becoming increasingly millennial. Millennials are quickly becoming the most important consumers encountered by most types of business, with a spending power that is estimated to be worth $10 trillion over their lifetimes. To top that 75% of the workforce is expected to be millennial by 2025.
Millennials are different from previous generations. Millennials are a notably values-driven generation. This can be attributed to their upbringing. Boomer parents have taught their children that every voice matters, that bullying is bad and equality is worth fighting for, that it takes a village.
More millennials than non-millennials integrate their beliefs and causes into their choice of companies to support their purchases and their day-to-day interactions. More than 50% of millennials make an effort to buy products from companies that support the causes they care about, according to research.
It’s not only political and ethical issues that move millennials. They also care about what’s genuine and authentic. This interest falls somewhere between a purely aesthetic preference and a search for honesty. For example they’re twice as likely to care about whether or not their food is organic than are their non-millennial counterparts. Authenticity is a powerful force for motivating millennial customers.
Similarly as employees, millennials want to make a difference and do something that counts.
So perhaps the way to ensure that the company brand is viewed as socially conscious, ethical and purpose driven is to actually be those things- in short, to do real good to be seen as good. There’s also a business case for it. Research shows that Companies guided by a purpose beyond making money returned 6X MORE to shareholders than explicitly profit-driven rivals.
What’s the role of employees and why are they important for creating true brand alignment?
Millennials as team members are also different- they want to be great parents, great spouses and want to do work that helps make the world better. Millennials will account for three-fourths of the workforce within the next few years and are already the biggest cohort in the workplace.
As customers most millennials are cynical about company ads. On the other hand the Edelman Trust Monitor shows that employees of a company are more trusted today than a company ad or even the CEO or founder of a company.
So employees are not only critical to provide a company’s services and products but also to build perceptions about the company and what it stands for.
As a result spending time and resources engaging with team members to ensure they understand what the company brand stands for and how it is different (statistics suggest a majority of employees are not clear on this) is becoming critical. This starts with clarifying the company’s purpose statement, the company’s values and philosophy and how it is different from other companies.
Why is it important to not just do the right thing but go a step further and engage your customers and employees?Company brand alignment yields rich benefits.
When consumers are aligned with a brand, they give it TWICE as much share of wallet as those who are not aligned with that brand.
Employees who have identified a clear purpose are upto 8 times more effective (Liquid Leadership by Damian Hughes)
Research suggests however that going a step further from alignment that successful engagement of customers and employees leads to 240% BOOST in performance related outcomes. Without brand alignment across internal and external audiences, you can end up with mixed messages, disengaged employees and customers, and even falling margins due to a lack of perceived value in your offering. So, what can companies do to overcome this? Does it substantiate an organisation-wide change? The answer is yes, but that doesn’t mean spending millions and calling in the change management experts. The answer lies in not only being truly driven by the company’s social purpose, but also consciously communicating that across a company’s internal and external touch points. Creating that alignment of messaging around the company’s purpose across internal and external audiences can create a more aligned and a much more powerful company brand.Sources: https://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2018/05/03/for-small-business-week-all-about-millennial-consumers-and-millennial-friendly-customer-experiences/#7c7ce19e2f91 https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/About-Deloitte/gx-dttl-2014-millennial-survey-report.pdf http://www.marketing-interactive.com/ceos-are-quickly-losing-the-trust-of-consumers-heres-why/
Liquid Leadership by Damian Hughes Gallup ‘The power of aligning consumers with your brand’, John H. Fleming, Dan Witters, and Amy Adkins, Aug 14 2014http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/163196/getting-employee-customer-encounter.aspx https://www.ft.com/content/b22933e0-b618-11e5-b147-e5e5bba42e51?mhq5j=e3