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Developing a brand’s strength from within

Strong, easily recognisable brands risk becoming fads if they do not receive support from within the organisation. Noel Dyson investigates.

PROMOTING a company’s brand to its staff is a crucial part of the branding exercise and can help the company change its culture.

Experts say a brand is more than just a logo, colours and typeface. The brand is a promise the company offers its customers and, therefore, staff members must be involved in the branding process so they can deliver on that pro-mise.

Indeed, a company’s culture may also need to be changed to support its brand and position.

University of WA Graduate School of Management senior lecturer Tim Mazzarol said staff involvement in a branding exercise was crucial.

“You need to see the brand as the Holy Grail in marketing terms. It needs to be communicated to both the customers and the staff,” he said.

“The staff need to be proud of the brand so they can explain it to customers.

“You need to sell the brand to the staff and to do that you may need to use the same promotions you would use for the customers.”

Dr Mazzarol said there was no excuse for small companies that failed to involve staff with their brands.

“The brand is often the most tangible asset in a developing company,” he said.

“Take a service firm. The brand tells of the attributes and promises that will be kept. If the staff don’t deliver they will be breaking the company’s promise to the customer.

“Staff usually like the branding process because they can become involved in it.”

BankWest communications manager Don McLean said it was fundamental for staff to be part of a branding exercise, especially when the brand was customer service orientated.

“The ‘We hear you’ campaign is a case in point. If the staff aren’t on side then the campaign doesn’t work,” he said.

“There is a real human resources angle to all of this. It’s partly about positive reinforcement and also [about] constantly showing staff the advertisements and explaining to them what we’re trying to deliver.

“You also need the process people – those who support the front-line customer service staff – to get the processes in place to help them deliver what we are promising through the brand.

“It’s alright having a strong recognisable brand but unless it stands for something it is worthless. A brand can become a fad unless it has internal support within the company, from the managing director all the way down.”

Reb Design retail design director John Banton said companies often used branding as a tool to change their cultures.

“If branding is done properly it filters through to all things the company is doing,” he said.

“Overseas companies are very good at taking on a brand culture. Australian companies are still maturing in that regard.”

Mr McLean said the concept of brand and its place within the organisation had grown in popularity overseas.

“It’s starting to grow in Australia too. Companies are starting to see a strong link between their earnings and the strength of their brands.”

p Next week: Leveraging the brand.

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