When a person starts a new position there is a natural orientation period. Management wants to allow the new employee to become familiar with their people, philosophy, systems and everything that makes the organization work. Smart companies know how important this initial period is. By giving the employee time to learn what everyone’s positions require they make the new employee feel confident in theirs.
Branding and brand strategy works identically. First there is an orientation period when the product or services are ‘launched.’ There is excitement and fun associated with this part, particularly if there has been real synergy between the sales, management and marketing groups. Hopefully there are some positive bumps in sales right after the launch is deployed.
What happens next depends less on the brand and more on the organization’s understanding and implementation of the brand story. What I mean is the total success of a brand has much more to do with the internal workings of a company and its people than it does with its products or services. Why? Because the greatest asset of any company is its people and what they think about their brand can make or break any brand marketing launch.
Conversely, it can work toward destroying the brand. Just listen to one of Kentucky Fried Chicken’s long-time franchisees talk about today’s KFC, “They hire marketing guys with blue blazers who tell us what to do with our damn stores. But it’s one thing to be behind the big mahogany desk calling the shots and another to be down here in the trenches.” The civil war over what KFC should stand for erupted last year when the company introduced grilled chicken with the slogan “Unthink KFC” and began touting its sandwiches over its chicken. Regardless of what you think of their menu, it’s clear KFC management did not bother to gain the full support of those who sell their products, and that is not increasing their brand position or their sales. Second-quarter revenue at U.S. stores open at least a year fell 7 percent.
The more each person in an organization understands they are the brand the more success the organization will achieve. But they have to want to do it. Just look at the world’s leading brands and you will conclude, aside from a great product, they have great people who are fully vested, excited and confident in their company. Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Starbuck’s. Disney. How did they become so well known for such great ‘brand marketing?’
It all started during those first days that allowed the new employee to become a part of something great and it was allowed and encouraged to keep growing each and every day. This excitement started with understanding what their new company was about and that allowed them to figure out their place, and that made them want to tell the brand story too. That’s what being great does. It creates more greatness. Same with branding.