Most companies are pretty good at defining their product brands. But when it comes to the corporate brand, things are often fuzzy, especially when a merger, acquisition or expansion event has occurred.
Is Your Corporate Brand Healthy?
Keep in mind that no brand is static; a brand is a living system. In other words, over time, a brand’s perception will organically change and evolve in the hearts and minds of anyone who has had an interaction with your brand. Ensuring that change is healthy and positive requires management, care and nurturing.
A clear, unified corporate identity is critical to ensure a solid foundation supporting the competitive strategy. A well-articulated corporate identity can:
- Provide direction and purpose, not only for customers but for internal stakeholders too
- Provide a halo effect to enhance other products, services and solutions
- Help recruit and retain employees
- Protect against reputational damage during times of trouble.
In our experience, startups and small- to medium-sized businesses build their reputation around what their company name represents. Their employees ARE the brand, offering their customers thought leadership, expertise, reliability, exemplary service, credibility, etc. These organizations often come to us to help address pain points: A new solution isn’t performing well. We aren’t able to scale. Why are customers having a hard time understanding our offerings? There seems to be internal resistance to where we want to go. Our brand reputation is eroding, but we don’t know why.
Sometimes, particular tactics to solve these issues do not help and the issue persists. This is known as a chronic issue.
Defining the Chronic Issues
First of all, ALL companies have issues. This is normal, and you aren’t alone. What you don’t want is to be working on the same issues, month after month, year after year. Chronic issues have the following characteristics:
- They are important.
- They are not a one-time event.
- They are familiar and have a known history.
- People have unsuccessfully tried to solve the chronic issue before.
Executing yet another tactic — a brochure, a campaign, a new website — isn’t going to resolve the chronic issue permanently.
Of course we can deliver a tactic that may temporarily fix the chronic issue. But if the strategic foundation isn’t rock-solid, it will not address the fundamental underlying cause. Chronic issues can only be resolved with an assessment of the corporate structure and the brand strategy driving the marketing plans.
Is Your Company Structured for Brand Success?
The overall goal for any company is to manage its processes to address the polarity of balancing customer satisfaction with the bottom line. Cross-Functional Management (CFM) is the management of business processes across functional and/or departmental boundaries.
Dr. W. Edwards Deming has stated that, “every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.” In other words, do not blame the results on the mistakes of individuals. Most people do not come to work to do a horrible job. One of the basic CFM principles is that the poor results one sees are due to a breakdown in CFM processes and structures. So instead of only trying to address the general patterns of behavior, look at the processes and structures that produce the behavior.
Tools such as process mapping and systems thinking help to reveal how the organization functions. The most important outcome of this exercise is that the individuals within the organization begin to understand how what they do impacts others, and ultimately the company. This understanding enables looking at processes to streamline and leverage structures so that each person begins to contribute to increasing customer satisfaction and a profitable bottom line.
Your Brand’s Health
When your company IS your brand, structure your organization for success. In other words, you can say your company is reliable and that this is what your brand stands for but, if you are not structured to deliver reliability, you will not achieve customer satisfaction or a healthy bottom line. By ensuring your company has a structure for success, your brand promise, mission, vision and core values will all have real meaning and not just be nice-sounding words without any heart.
So, how do we know CFM works? We took ourselves through our own CFM workshop! We’d love to share our results and have a conversation with you to see if your organization could benefit from a brand health assessment. We’ll help your organizational structure deliver its brand promise for your employees and your customers.