The Invisible Forces of BrandsMarch 19, 2020 2020-03-19 21:39
The Invisible Forces of Brands
The Invisible Forces of Brands
“Branding is more of a perception than a product(service).” – Bernard Kelvin Clive
Beyond colors, logos and all the visually appealing attributes of brands, there are other intangibles that trigger their success.
Today, I will share with you what I call the invisible forces of brands.
In countless instances, I have seen a number of individuals and businesses placing so much emphasis on their brand tangibles at the expense of the intangibles?
Visuals play a very critical role in branding. However, beyond visuals come the values, services offered, products and customer satisfaction, customer care, consistency of delivery of brands promise, etc.
The above mentioned attributes do more good to a brand than just overly focusing on the visually appealing stuff.
A couple of months ago I recommended a friend’s business, let’s call it ‘Kim Catering Services’ (KCS) to a client(Vernon) who badly needed their services. I had informed the client and told him the company does a pretty good job. As my recommendations came highly valued, the client took my word for it and engaged the services of KCS. KCS had sent one of her staff to inquire about the specific needs of Vernon. After the first meet up, KCS never sent any message nor invoice, just nothing. Vernon kept asking what the issue was and all KCS did was to keep promising to deliver to no avail. Long and short of it is that, the business between the two parties never happened.
Another request came in from the same client for another recommendation despite the first incidence. I recommended another friend’s business to the client. Much to our chagrin, the same back and forth and bad customer-client relationship was exhibited and transactions never happened. In mind-blowing fashion, it happened a third time!
Then, I thought to myself, there must be something really bad happening here. Although these recommended companies are great, well-known brands in their niches, they failed the test of brand delivery. They have all the niceties of branding but their invisible forces are killing their brands silently and slowly. This is not only unique nor limited to these three brands but so many other local brands around.
They invest in their brand tangibles – logos, colours, signage, social media and make loud noises yet they fail in delivering their intangible assets. Yes, these brands are damn good at what they do – no doubt, yet they haven’t come to the realization that the overlooked aspect of their branding would be undermining their brands.
Key areas brands must reinforce in their branding process include but are not limited to:
Brand Values: What the brand stands for and the willingness to sacrifice to ensure they stay top of their game. Right from the initial brand building process, every company should sate what their values are such as: integrity, respect, leadership, professionalism, excellence, etc. These become the underlining forces that drive the brand. When customers experience these attributes, they tend to leave a great impression on their minds about the brand. Some time back, I observed something awesome at one of the branches of GCB Bank where an elderly man had entered to withdraw money. Despite the long queue, one of the tellers immediately instructed the security man to offer him a seat and the staff quickly attended to him. An act like this will send string signals to many of their clients about the bank caring for them (elderly). Brands that live up to their values are highly recommended. What are your personal values and those of your brand?
In choosing your brand values, ensure that they are meaningful, different, memorable, actionable, clear, and timelines. Take cues from the following global brand values:
· Integrity: Asking customers for frequent feedback.
· Respect: Treating each customer with dignity and courtesy.
· Responsibility: Holding themselves accountable for their performance.
· Growth: Focusing on constant innovations and creativity
APPLE has been known for innovation, quality and creativity with their tagline “Think Different”. Here are their Core Values according to Tim Cook:
· We believe that we’re on the face of the Earth to make great products.
· We believe in the simple, not the complex.
· We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make.
· We participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.
· We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.
· We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot.
· We don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change.
Coca-Cola, a leading beverage brand in the world has the following values:
· Leadership: The courage to shape a better future
· Collaboration: Leverage collective genius
· Integrity: Be real
· Accountability: If it is to be, it’s up to me
· Passion: Committed in heart and mind
· Diversity: As inclusive as our brands
· Quality: What we do, we do well
With these examples, you can see how powerful brand values are and what they do for the brand and its customers.
Brand culture is basically how a brand lives it values. How they drive home the message they stand for. It’s the governing principles of an organization. It’s the ‘this is how we do it here and why we do it’. It’s the invisible force of a brand’s success.
A number of local brands have no culture or may just have it in writing but not embedded in their day-to-day branding activities. A reason only a few brands transcend the status quo and reach iconic stages.
Having an exceptional brand culture encourages employees to work with understanding and fulfillment of the brand promise. It creates leaders who raise other leaders. It enables a brand deliver on its promise and fulfil the needs and ever changing wants of clients.
A brand culture is a driver of customer satisfaction and initiates repeat businesses thereby creating loyal followers of the brand. The culture becomes the fuel that runs through the organization, to ensure effectiveness.
To build a successful brand culture, brands must place premium on the values they stand for. They must educate, empower, and reward staff.
Here are some examples of companies with great brand cultures to learn from:
Google over the years has earned the admiration of many and won many awards attributed to its exceptional Brand Culture.
Google creates a fun working environment, where work doesn’t feel like work but allows staff to be more creative. They create an environment of transparency, support, and innovation.
Noted for their exceptional customer care. They are a happy people making customers happy.
Here’s exactly some of what their brand cultures entail:
“Our Culture is woven into all aspects of our business and our Employees’ lives, from the way Employees treat one another to the way that our Company puts our Employees first. Three vital elements of our Culture are appreciation, recognition, and celebration.
In order to promote and foster a fun and healthy work environment, we work to appreciate every Employee through Local and Companywide Culture Committees…”
A company with such a remarkable culture would certainly do well in the market if they live by their values and culture. They believe that: “At Southwest Airlines, it’s always been about Heart. It’s about connecting People and championing communities, because distance shouldn’t keep us from being neighbours. Whether in the air or on the ground, we believe community is more than a place – it’s at the Heart of what brings us together.”
Here’s the take home.
Beyond brand visuals, strengthen your brand values and culture!
Bernard Kelvin Clive is an Author, Speaker and Corporate Trainer. Africa’s foremost author(ity) on Personal Branding. An Amazon bestselling author of over 40 published books. As a speaker & trainer he has been known to simplify complex ideas about branding and life and present them to audiences in clear, actionable steps. He has over a decade experience in digital publishing and has globally consulted for entrepreneurs, pastors, and people like you to write books and build brands. He hosts the number one ranked Career & Business Podcast in Ghana. Bernard is a brand strategist at BKC consulting and runs the monthly Branding & Publishing Masterclass.