Branding a services business isn’t just a marketing function

In any services based organisation the customer’s loyalty and trust are heavily influenced by the experience they have when dealing directly with the employees delivering the service.

And in increasingly competitive service industries, the greater the need for a good service experience and use clear and consistent marketing to communicate to its customers. And these two attributes should not be mutually exclusive.

Branding is an essential part of building up your organisation. However it’s often misunderstood and not used as effectively as it could or should be. Branding should not be seen as just a ‘new lick of paint’, but as an initiative to help drive cultural alignment between everyone in the organisation. A directional tool for senior managers to champion throughout the staff teams, a consistent identity from which marketing teams can communicate, and a guidance of expected conduct to those delivering the service to end-users.

The building blocks of brand strategy

When developing a brand there are several things to consider, but the three key attributes are values, proposition, purpose and brand essence. Your brand proposition is the value and benefit to the customer, the promise of a service level experience they can expect to receive. Brand values are beliefs that guide the behaviours and interactions between the organisation and customer, they drive the internal culture. Your brand purpose is why your organisation exists, why it matters to the world. And brand essence is the defining idea – A shorthand way of explaining to people what the brand is all about. Examples of this are: Nike – Inspiration & innovation and Volvo – Safety. All of these attributes should not be exclusive to the marketing department, but used by senior managers to create a cohesive organisation where staff teams are encouraged to be brand advocates.

A brand is built on two basic levels: at a broad-reach level, through such things as marketing communications, advertising, public relations etc; and at a personal level, through the experience the customer has when dealing with the organisation’s employees. What makes a successful brand is when these two levels are aligned. The ‘promise’ outlined to the customer in the marketing communications matches the experience they receive when dealing with the organisation.

Service organisations should regularly communicate the brand values and customer promise from within their organisation. By taking this approach they encourage internal teams to better understand the brand and culture they’re working within. It’s important that employee’s behavior matches the values projected by the organisation. Customers interact with organisations at multiple points and each experience they have (good or bad) will help shape their perception. So it’s important that branding starts from within and resonates outwards. Creating a new brand identity and outlining a customer promise will come to nothing but complaints of misspent budget if the delivery of the service does not match the expectation. Therefore the commitment of every member within the organisation is key to ensuring they ‘live the brand’ and to deliver consistently on the brand promise, aligning their own behaviour to the values set by the brand.

The perception of any brand is formed in the minds of its customers from the experiences they have. A solid brand strategy that is upheld by all internally and supported by effective marketing communications will help positively shape that perception, and ultimately build loyalty and trust amongst its customers.

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