By following a few basic steps, you can make sure your brand identity is walking the walk, not just talking the talk.
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
After putting in years to create the perfect brand, you probably want to simply kick back and watch your business grow. But that’s a bad idea, because, unfortunately, the real battle has only just begun.
What’s important to know is that the work you put in to craft your brand identity will be for nothing if you fail to reinforce it.
Successful business leaders understand this. They recognize that when their companies evolve, their brand identities have to evolve with those companies. For example, according to TechCrunch, by the end of this year, the studio fitness platform ClassPass plans to expand internationally to nine new countries.
Back when the company started, its brand identity revolved around the much simpler goal of helping users schedule and attend fitness classes. But once ClassPass expanded, it needed to develop a more diverse identity to speak to a wider array of users.
The importance of proper internal communication
The key to ClassPass’s success? It lay in shifting and maintaining the company’s brand identity via its use of proper internal communication. Had the company sent mixed signals across its leadership teams and refused to settle departmental disagreements, it would have conveyed a half-hearted, inconsistent brand message to its audience.
The lesson learned is that if you don’t know what your product stands for, your customers will view your brand as disjointed and inauthentic, which is not the best recipe for success.
Related: 3 Ways to Build Your Brand Identity Using Content Marketing
The obvious solution to resolving brand identity issues, then,requires having a solid relationship with your team. Following are three essential steps all entrepreneurs should take to maintain and reinforce their brand — alongside their team members. Follow these three steps to make sure your brand identity efforts build value.
1. Adamantly address your values.
Communicating your values to consumers requires more than a mission statement. You need to constantly remind consumers why you are in business in the first place. Otherwise, if something controversial happens, those customers’ already-deteriorating trust will dwindle into oblivion.
Just look at how Uber handled its data breach last year. Not only did the company fail to protect its customers’ privacy; it also waited a year to address the issue. Uber could have spent millions on ad campaigns to restore its customers’ trust, but its poor response implied that customer loyalty was far from a top priority.
The first step to avoiding that kind of brand-identity pitfall is to ensure that every business strategy you employ reflects your core values. Integrating those values into your onboarding processes and performance reviews ingrains this objective into your organization.
You can even reward those employees who go above and beyond to reflect your values in their everyday work. A gift certificate, a free spa day or something else with monetary value can go a long way. At TBGA, one of our primary values is “rolling up our sleeves and getting it done.” If we reward those who embody that sentiment, we are that much more likely to maintain trust with our customers.
2. Clearly convey brand guidelines.
You must ensure your brand guidelines are consistently implemented by your team. That means making sure each person understands the tone, voice and every other component of your visual brand identity inside and out.
Airbnb took a big step in its rebranding journey by pivoting from an app that provided accommodations to a company that crafts experiences for users to feel a sense of community and belonging. This concept shift in hospitality was summed up in Airbnb’s core message and identity: “Belong anywhere.” However, Airbnb wouldn’t have found such success without ensuring this new identity was secured within every facet of its brand guidelines.
To keep everyone on the same page, provide marketing resources to support the sales, development and operational teams that create customer-facing materials. These resources should provide your partners with templates and approved images, and guide those partners on the best way to use them.
The results will be real when each employee carries out brand guidelines the same way. In fact, according to a report by Lucidpress, your revenue can increase by up to 23 percent when you present your brand consistently. Take this step to heart because you would not want to miss out on a revenue boost just because an eager salesperson over the past year created an off-brand sales deck for prospects.
Related: 5 Tips for Building a Strong Brand Identity
3. Host collaborative forums.
Maintaining brand consistency falls short in companies with siloed departments. Instead, holding regular cross-functional meetings is the best way to keep employees from all work corners in the loop. The trick here is to keep these meetings productive. According to a Fuze infographic published by the Muse, organizations spend 15 percent of their time in meetings, and business leaders consider more than 67 percent of meetings to be unsuccessful. If you’re not careful, meetings can become a way to rationalize wasting time, and lead to more confusion around brand identity initiatives.
Consider what executives at Standard Chartered Bank do: They invest the time and effort to travel to face-to-face meetings with their team. This is no easy feat, as the company stretches across 57 countries, with thousands of employees. Yet the bank’s high-quality meeting approach has influenced entry-level members and managers to keep up the habit, which ultimately has added a personalized touch to each meeting and fostered collaboration.
You can do the same by being proactive in your next meeting and paying close attention to members of other departments. Listening to their concerns and trying to remedy them will instill trust across the entire team, and, as a result, across your consumer base.
Related: How a Distinct Brand Identity Helps This Sock and Apparel Company Stand Out
Ultimately, the hardest part of developing your brand identity isn’t creating but maintaining and reinforcing it throughout your company. Brand identity, in fact, entails a constantly evolving commitment to keep up with the demands of your industry. But by following a few basic steps, you can make sure your brand identity is walking the walk, not just talking the talk.