Brands, like celebrities, may be famous for nothing other than the fact of being recognized. They work at their own distinction. Like fashion, brand acceptance is fickle; its time in the sunshine of acceptability fleeting. Developing a successful brand tests just how skillfully you seize the moment; sustaining that moment makes the difference between fortune and failure.
Brand Commitment is the loyalty that your customers show each time they purchase your product. It is a complex interaction of conscious and unconscious, individual and group, social, psychological, economic, and aesthetic forces that manifest themselves in that moment when the shopper reaches for one product in lieu of another — Id and Ego at the checkout counter; Superego at the supermarket. Countless studies (and possibly as many consultants) create matrix upon matrix to examine, analyze, and predict the what, why, and how of consumer brand commitment.
While many of these external forces are beyond your control, your own commitment to your brand, and the commitment of your organization, is. This internal commitment involves brand citizenship behavior and internal brand management. Both are critical to brand success.
Brand citizenship begins with every present and future employee. Create a culture of brand commitment that begins with the interview. Does the prospective employee recognize the brand? What are her perceptions of it? Does she understand the brand? Can she articulate and deliver the same message each time she has an interaction with a customer? The offer letter and employee handbook should both explain and demonstrate a commitment to the brand. Sadly, most employee handbooks, if they mention the brand at all, do so in a negative way — “when using social networking, employee must maintain our brand identity”. Instead, promote the brand with every step of the employment process.
Internal brand management includes periodic reviews and updates on brand guidelines. Every person in your distribution and supply network should be trained to recognize the proper use of your brand. Ensure that all departments communicate both externally and internally with the same brand message. Make your brand part of the culture of your organization in signage, physical surroundings, and internal communications. Just as sales people are trained to have an elevator speech, train all your employees to be able to articulate the brand in clear, simple, and understandable ways.
Empirical results have shown that lower brand equity in service industries belonging to the same category is directly related to the level of employee brand commitment. The lower the understanding and loyalty of the employee, the less the consumer will value the brand. Put simply, if the people you pay aren’t committed to your brand, why should the people who pay for it?
KJK’s Brand Protection Group can conduct a brand audit and structure a program of brand citizenship and internal brand management that is affordable, flexible, and effective.
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