Every consumer can name a handful of brands they truly love. These are brands we put above all others. Without hesitation, we buy them repeatedly, and we look forward to the experience. These brands give us a sense of pride and a feeling of community with others who share the same brand love. On the flip side, most of us could easily name some brands we actively dislike for a variety of reasons such as poor service, faulty products or unmet expectations.
Brands in the business-to-business world elicit similar feelings. Companies willingly pay a premium to work with brands that have the “it” factor – whether that’s reputation, expertise, customer experience or a differentiated product. Long-term relationships are developed based on the strength of brands and can be quickly terminated if expectations are unmet.
Brands are Built on Emotions
The love-hate spectrum of brands points to the true definition of a brand. In the words of Marty Neumeier, a brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization. Brands are emotional. They elicit strong feelings in audiences and customers – in both the consumer and business-to-business worlds.
Brands that are masterful at creating these intense positive emotions are the ones that align every effort of the organization behind flawless delivery of the promise to customers. The most powerful brands are those that infuse accountability for the customer promise at every level of the organization – what we call Internal-External Brand Alignment (IEBA).
Companies that practice IEBA are truly walking the talk of their customer promise. Imagine an organization that’s entirely structured around delivering the customer promise. Every department understands how it contributes to the promise while every function, process and strategy is executed with the sole objective of supporting that promise.
Aligned Companies Have That Special Something
Aligned organizations are easy to spot. They stand out from the crowd, even if most typical customers might not be able to put their finger on what makes them special. If you took a closer look, you would notice a number of things that make these organizations different. Based on our years of experience working with companies on Internal-External Brand Alignment, here are some characteristics we see that make them so unique:
Focused. There is clarity at every level of the organization on the mission and vision. Employees understand the roles they play in fulfilling the customer promise, even if it’s an indirect role.
Open. There is a shared sense of purpose and cooperation. Information is shared freely and teams proactively collaborate with each other. Gaps and breakdowns are addressed with honesty and candor. Self-preservation become virtually nonexistent.
Agile. Change is easier and can happen faster. When teams see the change as a natural part of more effectively delivering the customer promise, they can adapt and transition quicker and with less resistance.
Confident. There is confidence in the purpose and direction of the organization. An optimistic, can-do attitude prevails and there is a trust in the organization’s leadership.
Magnetic. Positive energy is obvious to customers at every interaction. Customers walk away with good emotions that become the cornerstone of a successful brand. This magnetism also attracts employees who are a strong fit for the brand, which means they can easily assimilate into the organization’s culture.
Resilient. Bumps in the road are easier to navigate and don’t necessarily result in long-term negative outcomes. Challenges are addressed head-on with a proactive and positive confidence.
Flawless delivery of the customer promise is where the magic happens – this is how to create a brand that offers excitement, surprise and delight. By aligning the organization behind the customer promise, brands are put on the path to success – generating steadfast loyalty along with tremendous business results.