Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Delivering on Your Brand's Promise

In March of 2000, The Journal of Brand Management published an article I wrote entitled "Developing the brand building organization." Around that same time, I helped create and chaired the one of the first conferences dedicated to inside out branding. It has been said many times that more important than making a unique and compelling brand promise is keeping that promise. United Airlines found that out with their United Airlines Rising advertising campaign as their flight attendants were threatening a labor action labeled CHAOS (an acronym for "creating havoc around our system") and chanting, "No raises, no rising." Later, they found out again with the "United Breaks Guitars" YouTube video. BP found out when its environmental/green energy company brand repositioning was shown to be false during its catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter teaches the concept of value chain analysis. If you have created a brand that has a strategy and positioning that you are certain will cause consumers to insist upon your brand, then you must tangibly deliver against that strategy and positioning. This means you invest in people, processes, activities and systems that support the brand position and do not waste time, money or energy on those that do not. You invest in the value chain that supports the brand position.

Inside Out branding requires organization design and organization development support among other activities. To transform employees and the organization itself into a strong brand advocate requires more than a brand rally or internal education and communication (which are a part of what needs to happen), but it also requires internal alignment and incentives.

We have worked with more than one brand whose intentions were good but whose systems or processes worked against delivery on their promises. Inside out branding is a critical part of any brand management function. It is for this reason that the brand manager needs to be the consummate influencer and preferably at a very high level in the organization, because he or she certainly does not have control over everything that will insure delivery against the brand promise.

Here is a chart that I have taken from the second edition of my Brand Aid book. It illustrates the types of organizational activities that need to be aligned with the brand strategy and positioning if they are to be effective.

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