Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Brand Management Musings

(This article will take 1 minute to read.)

One of my endeavours in 2012 is to look further into the field of "Brand Management". In the role of the sales and marketing director of Intervate in Cape Town, I decided that it would be a great idea to dig deeper into this discipline to see where we could better define our brand management strategy to pursue our company mission.  

My initial thoughts on the matter was that the notion of brand was an emotional one - despite how much science and logic you care to apply.  This was supported by some of my research and notably some of the concepts in the book called:The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier.

Marty opens up with the differences between the oft confused 'logo' concept versus a brand.  He says: "a brand is not a logo. A brand is not a corporate identity system.  It is however a person's gut feeling about a product, service or a company."

He continues to explore 'the brand gap' - which essentially is the separation between the company's left brain (logic) and right brain (creativity) strategy with a view to ensuring that the resultant strategy increases the overall customer experience and therefore helps to elevate the company's brand.

One of the most interesting ideas raised is that brand management should not just be the reserve of the marketing team, management or executives.  The ideal scenario is to coach all of your staff to become 'brand ambassadors'.

A brand ambassador is one who promotes a brand through interactions with customers, prospects, partners or the media.  I can already hear the naysayers commenting that you don't want everyone having a different view and promoting the brand with their own subtle nuances.  And I tend to agree.

To overcome this I believe that the brand needs to have some key fundamentals in place.  A company mission is essential in this regard - and its not sufficient for the executives to agree a mission, post it on the wall in head office and consider the task completed.  The mission should be easily understandable and communicated to your staff and customers, relevant to your market and ultimately should become a part of the business culture.

Furthermore its key that a company adopts some key values - and once again these should communicated to staff and customers alike and should help guide the principles of the business and therefore the brand.

These building blocks, allied with the management style, the individuals within the business and their attitudes help create a culture.  It is this culture, I believe, which when closely aligned with the individuals personal culture within the business, and where strategy and tactics are openly shared with the company, that helps people feel empowered to be brand ambassadors for the company they work for.

Taking this practial example all the way, the left brain logic would inlclude a guide, or a policy, for example, on the use of the company name on twitter or other social media mediums and the right brain creativity would be the company empowering its staff to use this to its full potential to become brand ambassadors.


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