Brand alignment is a simple way of saying “Harness the power of your whole company to deliver your brand promise in employee behavior, new product development, and sales and marketing efforts”. A brand promise is a statement of the relevance and differentiation that gives us competitive advantage. Marketing collateral, logos, colours, typefaces, spatial proportions, voice, dress code, behaviour, espoused values, and individual personalities all make up the brand.
Brand alignment is the very definition of brand authenticity. Authentic brands understand themselves at the deepest level and act in accordance with that understanding. Their brand promise is genuine and their actions seek to make good on that promise. … and loyalty is the ultimate sign of brand alignment. Inconsistent branding is one of the surest ways to send red flags to your customers. When a brand’s communication is inconsistent, its customers can’t tell if it’s authentic or not. Inconsistency denotes carelessness and unprofessionalism, and plants a powerful seed of doubt in the minds of audiences.
We are often asked if we want/need more associate coaches and trainers and we spend time exploring how they align with our brand. We expect our associates to live the TPS brand when working on our business – we expect them to work with our clients to use our products and services, not sell their own. We expect them to use TPS branded materials (unless of course the client wants their own brand using), we expect them to refer further work back to the TPS office and we certainly don’t expect them to refer our clients to other businesses or to service work under their own name. We now ask them to use TPS email addresses and TPS business cards.
What’s the reason you may ask – well we partner with clients. We spend huge amounts of time understanding their strategic intent, their own brand values and what’s important to them. We build long term sustainable relationships and they share ‘no go’ areas with us so we can work round them to ensure a consistent service that fits with the culture. The inconsistency of introducing another brand name or person causes problems that the procurement department isn’t expecting. A client needs to know who is in their organization. Messing about with this could affect liability insurance and to the end user it just looks amateur. In short, we do use associates and often have vacancies – we expect loyalty and commitment and rocking the boat once can be a mistake, twice sends ripples of distrust through the TPS and we cannot risk our clients’ trust and relationship by working with unprofessional people.
We have seen companies with misaligned brands and this breeds confusion and suspicion within the organisation e.g. an organisation where are the brand logos etc were bright red yet the organization spent much time and money extoling the need for blue (democratic) behaviours. Theresa May is frequently to be seen wearing bright red yet she heads up the true blue Tory party – this causes confusion at an unconscious level.
By contrast, consistency reinforces our key messaging, bolsters our industry authority, and drives our customers’ loyalty. Being consistent doesn’t mean that all of our communications are
identical—only that standards are in place for a coherent representation of our brand across channels. We don’t have to sacrifice the dynamism of our content to allow for consistent branding.
To ensure a brand is successful we need to;
- Align internally; by strongly expecting our associates to walk our talk, live the brand and demonstrate loyalty to TPS at all times – do your associates, colleagues and employees do that for you?
- Align externally; yes we try to project a uniform brand experience when it comes to elements such as logo usage, brand architecture, layout, and photography to plant the seed of recognition in those we serve. We’re not there yet and we’re enjoying the journey. More importantly we aim for our communication to be in accordance with a larger, unifying narrative. We partner with our clients so they feel connected to us, they trust us so it’s imperative all who touch our clients take advantage of every opportunity to foster that connection. Telling a story that not only resonates with our audience, but includes them as an integral part of the narrative is how that connection is made. Our audience is aligned when it identifies with our purpose and to identify with our purpose, they must feel invested in our story. We are known for our ethics and safe practice, our ability to provide external qualifications where we can. Our clients regularly become our friends and our relationships have a sustainable chemistry that we work hard to maintain.
- Maintaining our brand; TPS is 16 years old. Brand alignment is no accident. It’s the direct result of a well-planned and executed strategy. By taking the time to maintain the initiatives we put in place, we try really hard to ensure that our brand’s purpose and promise are fully realized by associates and clients alike. That’s the mark of true brand authenticity and that’s what we stand for. For those starting out in the business, you need to design, plan and execute your brand strategy so that your clients can be clear what you stand for – you then need to work to protect and maintain it, then and only then will they put their trust in you.