rule breaking brands

Brands that align behind their customer promise are those that truly walk their talk. They consistently deliver what customers expect while also surprising audiences with new offerings and groundbreaking approaches to doing business.

What’s interesting about many aligned brands is the confidence in which they operate. They make it seem so easy.  There’s almost a swagger – a sense of invincibility. While they certainly keep an eye on competitors, they rarely seem threatened because they’re so sure of who they and their unique and differentiated position in the marketplace. These are the game changers and the rule breakers.

Culture is the Foundation of Confidence

Commitment to the brand promise is the foundation of culture in these aligned organizations, and it’s the place where confidence begins. The beliefs that support the brand are infused into the employee experience from the very beginning – starting with the hiring process and then continuing through onboarding, career development, performance reviews and the rewards structure.

These confident, aligned brands are very clear on the people who best suit their culture, and they are unapologetic to employees or candidates who are not the right fit. Some go so far as encouraging employees to quit. Brands like Zappos or Amazon offer quitting bonuses to employees who voluntarily deselect themselves. While this may seem harsh, it encourages employees to make a choice and recommit to their role in delivering the brand promise. Employees who are engaged and aligned with the culture will usually choose to stay. Those who are not will be offered an incentive to move on. This can make life easier for managers who don’t have to grapple with motivating and engaging employees who are not a good fit.

Employees Trust their Leaders

Aligned organizations also tend to have confidence in their leaders. A sense of trust is prevalent because employees consistently see how the actions of leaders support the brand, even if they don’t agree with the minutiae of every decision or strategy. Because the promise and supporting beliefs are so prominent in daily life, employees seldom have reason to question the direction of the organization when decisions and strategies are clearly aligned with the brand promise.

The beliefs that support the brand promise are very present and prominent in daily life including team huddles, department meetings and annual events. Employees at every level are clear on their accountability to the brand promise. The familiar language of the brand provides context to internal communication, and continually reminds employees of the collective purpose of the organization. The beliefs also help guide daily decisions and actions across the organization – from front line employees to senior leaders.

This overt confidence is one of the characteristics my team has identified in our work over the years with brand-aligned organizations. The key to this confidence is an unwavering commitment to delivering the brand promise and fulfilling customer expectations at every touchpoint. Confidence is only one of six characteristics that my organization has identified among brand-aligned organizations. To read about the other characteristics, be sure to check out these articles:

The Power of the Customer Promise: Characteristics of Aligned Brands

Focused: Why Customers and Employees are Drawn to Focused Companies

Open: How Open Brands Communicate and Collaborate

Agile: How Agile Organizations Embrace Change

Resilient: How Resilient Brands Recover from the Unexpected

Magnetic: How Magnetic Brands Attract Customers and Employees

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.