Sometimes a brand is talked about as a separate entity. Build the brand or grow the brand are common phrases, referring to something that is both part of and separate from the business as a whole. A brand is often considered a symbolic representation of what the business stands for, its mission and vision. That’s true enough, but far from the whole story.
Whether a brand is as old as Coca-Cola or as new as a business that opened yesterday, it means nothing without the people who implement it. They can treasure it or destroy it. A brand represents relationships and an emotional connection between the business employees and consumers.
Defining and Implementing a Brand
One of the most important functions served by defining a brand is requiring the business owners and employees to focus on their core values. It’s easy to come up with nice-sounding terms like “exceptional customer service,” but much harder to implement it.
Whatever the brand is defined as requires a serious commitment from management. For example, they must put customer service standards and measurements in place, hire the best people they can find, train them appropriately and motivate them to perform at the highest level. It’s easy to provide average customer service, but providing exceptional customer service is a constant challenge.
Brands can commit suicide. Circuit City had a lot of problems that led to its closure, including poor inventory management. It committed suicide when it unilaterally fired 3,400 of its highest paid employees. A business can figure out and work through inventory issues, but it can’t solve any of its problems without the right people. Generally, the highest paid people are the ones who know the most. It’s possible the company could have been saved with decent management that knew how to motivate the essential employees they fired.
The sleek, sporty DeLorean is well-known from “Back to the Future” movies. Off the screen, the brand only survived seven years. Uneven quality and unrealistic pricing caused the company to sell only half the cars needed for break-even. What killed the brand was a drug-trafficking scandal involving the founder. The brand was tarnished beyond repair.
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