Friday, August 18, 2006

Who Controls Your Brand, Anyway?

It's easy to get confused, or to want to take the easy way out. But don't do it. Customers, as a general rule, don't control successful brands. Neither do marketing specialists, brand managers, vice presidents of communications or other such titles. Employees do.

Yes, customers can create their own commercials and videos about your brand. Yes, customers can mock your brand in any number of ways. Yes, customers can rip your brand to shreds before the eyes and ears of millions (or even billions of people). And, yes, they can probably do it better, faster and cheaper than you can. But, that doesn't mean they are in control.

Yes, marketing types can create brands, articulate brands and impose brands. They can tell you about the brand personality or write out the brand promise. But that doesn't mean they control the brand either.

Employees have the power. Employees are the living and breathing reflections of the brand. They talk as the brand. They listen as the brand. They create products/services on the brand's behalf. They act as the brand.

So, employees have to understand the brand and connect with it. They have to see the value in delivering on that brand consistently. They have to understand they are in control of it.

And people who develop those brands need to remember the value of creating it in a manner that is clear, consistent and connected. Clear in its intent, consistent in its application and connected to its target audiences.

Worry less about trying to gain footing in the world of tech savvy customers and think more about how you can ensure employees at every level are building brand equity with the customers who matter to your bottom line.
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