Brand Promise to Brand Experience - closing the ‘say-do’ gap
Almost all organisations and businesses have a service component to their offer. While brand and marketing communications set expectations, there is often a ‘say-do’ gap at the point of service delivery. Frontline staff are either unaware of or unengaged with the brand promise being made. Brand owners spend time and care crafting the right message, without bringing the brand into front line staff behaviours. We have found that from the shop floor up, staff needed to “buy into” the brand to align their day-to-day actions with what is being promised to customers.
Make no mistake, embedding the brand into your organisation is not a simple, easy fix. It requires time and commitment from everyone in the organisation, from the CEO and leadership team downwards. From working with a wide range of clients, some key points we have learned include
- Build the brand from the inside out. From proposition development to communications launch and roll out, staff who will deliver the brand experience should have a role in co-creating the brand. If staff cannot support the promise being made in communications, the brand is destined to failure
- In addition to a sense of brand ownership, staff need to be able to link on-brand attitudes with rewards and recognition, it’s not just “what you do”, but “how you do it” that counts
- Staff need clear, consistent and regular communication about what is expected of them and their role in delivering a branded experience for customers
- Leadership in the organisation need to “walk the talk” and role model actions and behaviours. If leadership can’t do this, why should we expect modestly paid front-line staff to follow?
What does this mean for brand strategy?
An evidence-based brand insight is the foundation for consistent on-brand behaviours
As one of our core values, Rigour is baked into our organisational DNA as a signature strength of MCCP; it is integral to all that we do and the foundation of excellent brand strategy development and execution – it determines the rationale for the key brand decisions that you need to make.
Integrated & holistic change
Accountability for achieving the strategic brand objectives extends beyond providing the blueprint for achieving the brand vision. This is especially true if the strategy calls for new or different organisational capabilities or behaviours. This provides a 360-degree approach to brand strategy that spans internal and external stakeholder engagement, communications, working session facilitation, strategy development, plan development and implementation.
Balancing action and reflection
Turning brand insights into implementable actions is a persistent challenge for brand teams. Research suggests that 59% of senior leaders struggle to bridge the gap between strategy and execution (Project Management Institute - Brightline Initiative, 2019)
We use proprietary and proven tools such as homework tasks, active listening exercises and envisioning tools to encourage working session participants to ‘walk in audiences’ shoes’ and develop empathy and a customer-centric mindset through the brand strategy development process.
This means that when decisions are made and the strategy is defined, it is translated into objectives and desired KPIs that are built on a foundation of sound diagnosis, an understanding of the degree of complexity involved, agreed guiding principles supported by frameworks and coherent and coordinated actions.
People at the centre – ‘positioning the positioning’
In our experience, the strategies will be delivered by stakeholders and colleagues right throughout the organisation, not just the marketing, brand or comms teams. All stakeholders need to be assured and persuaded that the brand strategy and supporting implementation plans are going to deliver on their particular needs and that their views are being reflected. An internal narrative supporting the brand needs to be created to drive forward and align the organisation, maintaining focus and prioritisation to position the brand in the correct way.
The more inclusive, transparent and open both the brand strategy development process is – and the stakeholder engagement and communications plan that accompanies it – will determine its success when translated to a clear, understood and actionable implementation phase.
Going forward, of course the brand strategy exists in an ever-changing context. On an ongoing basis talk openly about what the brand’s positioning is across the business regularly and employees will begin to take this positioning and bring it into their day to day, these are the key principles to close the brand ‘say-do gap’.
If you're ready to take the next step then talk to the team at MCCP - your brand strategy agency in Dublin.