It’s tempting to write branding off as something that only impacts your marketing team and the strategies they implement. You may even think of marketing and branding as two interchangeable functions, which is understandable given how much a well-built brand can bolster your marketing efforts. Strong branding can help build relationships between you and your customers, establish trust among your audiences, and keep you at the forefront of purchasing decisions. As a marketing tool, alone, branding is invaluable.
Without branding, your products and services will swiftly be swallowed up by the sea of messaging your competitors are pushing out into the marketplace.
But the value of a strong brand stretches beyond marketing. When done right, your branding can provide clarity of thought and action across every part of your business operations. As such, the strength of your brand can impact your ability to overcome a myriad of business challenges, some of which overlap with marketing. Some fall well outside this realm. All can shape the future of your organization.
CHALLENGE #1: Lack of Vision and Values and an Unclear Why
Without well-established vision and values or a clearly defined Why, individuals within your organization will quickly start making disjointed decisions that can send your entire business strategy down an unintended path. As core components of a strong brand strategy, these elements act as guideposts for your employees. They define your purpose and help each individual understand how they can help fulfill that purpose. They give everyone in your organization, from interns to leadership, direction as they make decisions that will impact the way your organization operates.
CHALLENGE #2: Unhealthy Company Culture
A broken culture is one of the most difficult business challenges you can face. As you grow, restructure, weather industry changes, hire new employees, and lose others, employee morale is bound to shift. Motivation may wane. And negativity may seep in through the cracks. Aspects of your brand strategy can guard against these downward turns. Carefully defined and communicated mission, vision, values, and brand promise ensure everyone within your organization understands and supports the culture you’ve worked so hard to cultivate, keeping it healthy even in uncertain times.
CHALLENGE #3: Struggles with Talent Attraction and Retention
Employee turnover and hiring struggles are directly tied back to your culture. It’s pretty simple: if your culture is broken, no one will want to work for you. Just as your brand strategy can strengthen your culture, it can attract and retain talent. Beyond your internal culture, the cachet your external audiences hold for your brand draws more than customers. Potential employees are attracted to companies with good reputations, and current employees are excited to be a part of something bigger. Branding demonstrates these valuable aspects of your organization as an employer just as much as it communicates the value of your products and services.
CHALLENGE #4: Murky Understanding of Customers and Other Key Audiences
Without definition, your organizational understanding of customers and key audiences can become nebulous, especially as new people join your organization or as your audiences grow. In going through your branding process, you likely conducted audience and customer research to shape and inform your brand. The insight from that research should have been synthesized into a key findings report, buyer journeys, and personas that can easily be shared with everyone in your organization. This crash course on your audiences will ensure everyone knows just how to connect with your customers.
CHALLENGE #5: Dubious Grasp of the Business, Products, and Services
It’s easy to assume everyone on your team knows your business inside and out. But, more often than not, this institutional knowledge can fall through the gaps if it’s not clearly documented and messaged out to your employees. Branding provides a natural vehicle for this documentation, establishing key messages, positioning, brand promises, and much more. This information should be included in your onboarding process to close any gaps in knowledge before they start to form.
CHALLENGE #6: Misperceptions About the Business
Sometimes misunderstandings are far more detrimental to a business than a complete lack of knowledge. They are also fairly commonplace in an organization that has been around for a while. Mixed messages quickly make their way through the pipeline when historical communications don’t line up with new strategies. A strong brand can put these misperceptions to rest with consistent and definitive messaging around who you are as an organization.
CHALLENGE #7: Disjointed Voice Across Teams and Departments
Your message isn’t the only thing that can become muddled. The way you deliver that message can become distorted from department to department. This may not seem that critical of an error. Everyone communicates differently, so it’s natural that your brand voice would change from person to person. But, your brand voice and personality are a major part of communicating authenticity and building trust with your audiences. Using your branding to define and shape that voice will help maintain its consistency and unify your message on all fronts.
CHALLENGE #8: Lost in a Sea of Competitive Sameness
Without branding, your products and services will swiftly be swallowed up by the sea of messaging your competitors are pushing out into the marketplace. If done right, your brand has been established based on an understanding of what differentiates you from your competitors. This understanding should be woven throughout your messaging platform, logo, and all the other elements of your branding. It’s what sets you apart in the marketplace. The reason your audience tunes in to what you have to say. In this way, solid branding gives you a solid place of differentiation when competitors start to muddy the waters.
CHALLENGE #9: Underperforming Sales
One area misperceptions, knowledge gaps, lack of audience insight, and inadequate competitive differentiation can impact more than others is your sales department. If your sales team is miscommunicating about your products and services or they don’t understand what your customers are really looking for, it will immediately be reflected in your bottom line. Consistent branding throughout the funnel, all the way through your sales conversations, will eliminate any disconnect to ensure your audiences are met with messages designed to close the sale.
The Value of Branding
It’s important to understand just how much of your organization is impacted by your branding—in part because it will help determine exactly how much of your time and budget should be invested in building a strong brand, but also because the more everyone within your organization understands how branding impacts their individual roles, the more they can leverage it to overcome challenges and drive business growth.