Big media events like the Olympics bring out the heavy-hitters when it comes to delivering brand messages. For more than two weeks straight, brands take advantage of captive audiences who are eager to witness the excitement and drama of the games. When the games are over and consumers have absorbed repeated messages through commercials, print ads, social media and logos at event venues, will those brands live up to the promises they delivered? Or will consumers feel let down and disappointed because their experiences don’t match their expectations?

Marketers and advertisers are expert at creating campaigns and messages that get noticed and remembered, especially when a large audience is watching. Many viewers of the Super Bowl, for example, admit they’re more captivated by the commercials than the game itself. Discussions at the water cooler the next day are often focused on rehashing the commercials rather than the game.

Successful Brands Keep their Promises

The challenge for brands is to consistently fulfill the promises they’ve delivered. It’s one thing to make big promises when millions of people are watching, and it’s another to bring them to life. Brands can spend a lot of time creating customer service models that deliver the brand promise – that’s certainly a start. The bigger opportunity lies in connecting the promise to culture, which is at the very core of an organization.

This is where internal-external brand alignment comes into play. By aligning internal culture behind the external customer promise, brand messages will become deeply embedded into an organization – beyond the service model. The customer promise becomes central to everything and serves as a guidepost for making strategic decisions that impact every level of the organization.

Achieving this level of focus through internal-external brand alignment requires ownership at every level of the organization – not just those that create brand messages or directly interact with customers. It requires involvement of employees who may not be accustomed to relating to the customer promise. It requires leaders who commit to the vision of brand alignment and can guide and inspire teams consistently and rigorously. This is where every team comes to the table to examine how their work contributes to the customer promise.

Elite Brands Consistently Deliver the Promise

This level of rigor may seem unrealistic, but there are many brands that do this well. They are the ones that consumers flock to again and again and that elicit fierce brand loyalty. Their customers are more than just customers. They are brand advocates – a tribe of loyal followers who wouldn’t imagine spending their money any place else. These brands have earned their elite status by delivering consistent experiences that fulfill or exceed customer expectations.

Like athletes preparing for the Olympics, internal-external brand alignment requires dedication, discipline and long-term training. By putting in the time and commitment, your brand can be the one on the medal podium when millions are watching.

About Alice Wright

As Director of Content Strategy, Alice directs projects while also designing program strategy and instructional content. She has more than 22 years of experience managing integrated strategic marketing, communication and training programs for globally recognized brands. Some of her current and past clients include Nike, Sunglass Hut, Safeway, Banfield Pet Hospital, Office Depot, Unilever, LensCrafters, EMC, Intel, Microsoft, Dell, adidas, Joann Stores and others. Alice earned her bachelor’s degree from the School of Journalism and Communication at University of Oregon. She lives with her husband and teenage son in Portland, Oregon where she loves exploring the outdoors and being a soccer/band mom.