Q: How can you solve your client's problems with branding?
A: Ten years ago an existing client contacted our firm to work with her architect to design and build their entire front and backyard landscape and swimming pool. She asked us to take care of her permit issues. We normally did not take care of such things but we said yes because as a company, we always try to find a way to say yes to our customers. Secret 5: Find ways to say 'yes' to your clients and they will help you grow.
Subsequently, we figured out how to handle her permits, and now, 10 years later, permitting is part of our standard offerings. In contrast, most competitors tell their clients to get their own permits. We now solve this problem for our client. This makes us easy to do business with, gives us more control over the entire purchasing process, and makes our busy clients relieved and happy when they find out we do this.
Q: How can branding be executed at the grass roots level?
A:Once you have identified your brand's principles, it's time to put the new (or refined) brand in place. Think of your brand as a play and you are its producer. You develop the idea, finance it, and hire the managers and actors. But on opening night it's up to all the theatre employees and actors to perform. Make sure they understand what the story is and what their role is in the play.
It's important not to micro-manage this process – your employees will have some wonderful ideas to improve the execution of the play. Be prepared to get feedback from each and every employee on how their role and the client experience can be improved.
When I ran this meeting at my company my employees told me it was the best meeting they ever had. They each got to better understand what we were trying to achieve as an organization, what each other's role was, and how their personal role fit into the big picture. It was the only time I ever heard my employees ask for a repeat meeting. Make sure you document what is required of each person's part so the play is consistently executed each day. Consistency is the key to building long-term brand equity.
In order to lead an organization that constantly evolves, you have to do the same as a leader. Evolving and changing your brand by 10 percent a year is an essential technique for all companies who want to stay successful. If you are doing something unique and successful, you will be copied. Grocery Entrepreneur Stew Leonard's has done an excellent job of this by listening to his client's suggestions. His clients asked for take-out food. His clients love his breads and now he sells birthday cakes. Stew's is constantly changing.
Q: How can branding be executed through a communication strategy?
A: At the same time as you are meeting with your employees on their roles, make sure you are putting in place a communication strategy. This deals with your company colors, uniforms, service offerings and makeup, letterhead and billing documents, advertising and marketing strategies.
Are you ready to get started but confused about exactly where to begin? Try writing down what your brand stands for, what makes you unique in the marketplace, and what your clients appreciate most about you. Then ask your employees and clients the same questions.
Once you know where you stand, then decide where you want to go. This can take a few days of thought. I recommend a weekend on the beach in Mexico. List out all the customer touch points and what experiences you want the customer to get from each of those points. Then share this information with your staff in group meetings.
Okay, it's easier said than done and it will take more time and iterations, but you get the picture. Start now and dare to be different!!