Recently, Starbuck’s exemplified this when the police were called on two African American customers without cause. That action is diametrically opposed to the company commitment: “We make sure everything we do is through the lens of humanity – from our commitment to the highest quality coffee in the world, to the way we engage with our customers and communities to do business responsibly.”
Rather than letting that promise, and their brand integrity, erode, Starbucks took action with an immediate apology from the CEO and chose to lose a significant amount of business by closing all 8,000 U.S. stores for one afternoon to provide racial-bias training. They also announced that training will now be part of on-boarding for all employees. That’s walking the talk – and living your brand integrity.
Good or bad, every company’s brand has a reputation, or a brand:
The image of your company vision and direction both internally and externally. It’s how your employees and customers perceive your company, or brand, through its products, services, image and reputation, whether real or perceived.
If your company’s brand has a negative or even mediocre reputation, that’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed. If you do nothing, time will take its toll, and your company will lose ground quickly or slowly, but one thing is certain, it will be painful. There are simply too many eager, sincere companies with vision who won’t be complacent about how they operate.
If your company has a good reputation, guard it as the treasure it is because that’s the intangible factor that gives you the edge in the marketplace.
When your company acts in a manner consistent with what and who you say you are. That means how you treat everyone from the janitor to the CEO, to customers small or large,is consistent and on brand.
So, what does guarding brand integrity mean on a practical basis?
- Empower someone, usually a marketing person, to be responsible for maintaining your brand’s integrity across all employee and customer communications and programs
- Make sure the logo and company colors are always used according to company guidelines
- Don’t allow different departments to create or use different images
- Keep siloed divisions, under the same company name, consistent with the brand to avoid customer confusion – or loss of brand recognition
This is all especially true with small to medium companies. Large companies know better – that’s one of the reasons they got there.
The Intangible is Gold:
Still, maintaining brand integrity is much more than logos, colors and style.
It is being consistent with the message you send regardless of the vehicle, and the ability to demonstrate your promise to everyone the company touches, including vendors.
So, make sure that everyone inside and outside your organization understands your vision and promise. Exemplify it in every action and communication. Live your integrity and your brand will be golden.
Connect with Marketing Influence to learn more about how we can help you build your brand and maintain your brand integrity.