A brand is so much more than a logo and color scheme. It’s more than a quirky catch-phrase and a certain style when writing marketing content. It’s more than who your customers think you are. Your brand is what your company should be. When a cheerful brand doesn’t match how a company really interacts with customers, it’s like biting into a chocolate to find cough syrup in the middle instead of toffee. Whether it’s the ‘friendly’ bank with awful customer service or the smiling fast-food brand with scowling employees, we have all experienced the confusion and mild sense of betrayal when a brand’s image doesn’t match the real-world customer experience.
This is a problem that many businesses struggle with as brand images change without any consideration for the company inside. It’s all too easy to put a smiling logo and a friendly catch-phrase on your marketing assets without making sure that the new brand design is consistent throughout. Fortunately, it’s not as difficult as you might think to make the inside and outside of your company line up. All you need is perspective, intention, and cooperation from higher management.
If you want the inside of your company to match the outside brand, the first step is always company culture. This is what defines the attitude of employees from finance to customer service. The culture will define how serious or playful the workplace is, what is prioritized, and even how customers are viewed by the internal staff. Company cultures develop slowly over time, inspired first by the founder and their initial team, then grow based on new people and the customs that form in the first few years.
New management, team members, and policies can shift company culture, but it will always represent a continuous line back to the founder. In order to change your company culture to match the brand attitude, you have to emphasize the changes you want to see. Hold meetings, make it the subject of your next company retreat, and post signs. Start rewarding people for showing ‘company spirit’ by taking on the brand personality and consider new uniforms that make everyone feel like part of the ‘new’ branded team.
Upholding the Mission Statement
Every brand should have an internal mission statement. This could be a reflection of your marketing motto or something carried over from the founder themselves. But whatever it is, it should be actionable. Think along the lines of “The Customer Comes First” or “Overnight When You Need It” or “The Highest Quality”
Your company mission statement is often thought of as a motto, a catch-phrase, or a marketing slogan that employees usually shrug off as irrelevant to internal work. But it’s not. Let’s say your mission statement relates to the fastest possible shipping for customers in a rush. This should mean that your entire business prioritizes fast shipping from beginning to end. Finance determines the most affordable way to ship quickly, customer service expedites shipping-related concerns over other tickets, and you make a habit of compensating customers who receive packages late.
This is how you uphold a mission statement. Simply posting it on the wall and in marketing assets is never enough. Your company must truly believe in and enact the mission statement to provide customers with the service they will expect.
Conveying Brand From the Top Down
Finally, to get dozens, hundreds, or thousands of employees onboard with representing the brand, you have to get the higher-ups involved. Remember that company culture rolls downhill so any major changes you want to make must come from the top. If the execs blow off the brand for their own styles, so too will the employees. But if the execs are clearly excited about the brand and encourage/reward others for embodying the personality, values, and appearance of the brand, employees will come to value brand adherence.
Talk to your execs or, if you are an exec, get the others on your level involved in really promoting the brand. Give speeches about what it means to be part of the company as part of the shared brand, wear the company colors, and get enthusiastic about being a part of the team. And if the execs can’t bring themselves to get behind the brand, then rebranding may be necessary to get the entire company on-board and brand-coherent both inside and out.