by Dan Woychick
You’ve got a great new logo and website, brand guidelines, a presence on multiple social media channels, and some soon-to-be-award-winning marketing materials. You’ve got this branding thing whipped, no? Well … um … no.
Think of your printed or online materials as the scaffolding around new construction. It is necessary and useful, but of little value on its own. Until the brand has been built from the inside out, you may remove the scaffolding only to discover there’s nothing there.
It’s a team sport
Successful managers are adept at putting their people in a position to succeed. Unlike Bugs Bunny, forced to play every position against the Gashouse Gorillas, a brand manager can’t succeed unless everyone on the team plays a role.
Because authenticity is the name of the game, it’s important to provide training, support, and incentives for coworkers so that your new branding effort won’t ring hollow.
From curmudgeons to the terminally shy, not everyone will proudly sing from your brand hymnal. Though uniform enthusiasm may be unrealistic, it’s not too much to ask for understanding and acceptance.
For a large, nonprofit client, we insisted on scheduling several voluntary, one-hour workshops as part of the brand launch. Each session was designed to provide participants with an overview of project goals, key messages and graphics, and practical tips for putting the brand to work. With a drawing for a free weekend getaway trip and other prizes as incentive, the internal training effort reached over two thirds of all employees.
Additionally, we encouraged the sharing of stories, regularly recognizing “brand champions” through internal communications after the workshops were a distant memory.
To keep everyone in tune with the institution’s brand, Virginia Tech developed a comprehensive, two-phase Brand Ambassador Certification Program. Since its inception, they’ve identified several best practices, including:
- Recruit executive-level supporters who believe in the program.
- Solicit feedback on everything – program content, presentation style, overall value.
- Offer each class at least twice to accommodate scheduling conflicts.
- Ask participants to recommend the program to peers.
- Award participants with official recognition.
Actions speak louder than words
A brand is not what you say, it’s what you do – the sum total of all your actions. The better prepared your organization is to live its brand, the more vivid and indelible an impression you will make.