committing to your brand

Last week we presented D3: Depict, the conclusion of our strategic, pre-design services to a large Salt Lake architectural firm. The presentation included our recommendations for brand strategy, including the Brand Promise and new tagline. We now begin the design of a new identity for the firm. In the question and answer period following our formal presentation, someone asked, “Though we have 18 principals here, there are many employees not here. How do we get everyone on board?”

It’s a good question.

Tom Peters, the management guru who wrote In Search of Excellence in 1982, and a highly-regarded business thinker, said that developing a Brand Promise was important and made sense, but unless everyone in the company buys into it, the whole exercise is a waste. He asks, “Does this Brand Promise make sense to you? As individuals? In your daily work? With your clients? Is it genuine, dramatic, an inspiring departure from the past? Does the new ‘story line’ give you goose bumps? Yes, branding is about the logo, the slogan, the marketing campaign, the advertising. But, in the end, branding is about credibility. Do the 99.9 percent of your people who work in the trenches buy the act? Do they live it, with vigor? Do they convey it with passion?”

You always launch a new brand identity internally first. As brand guru, Marty Neumeier says, “The secret of a living brand is that it lives throughout the company, not just in the marketing department. Since branding is a process, not an entity, it can be learned, taught, replicated and cultivated. Continuing education programs can get everyone in the company onto the same page, while seminars, workshops, and critiques can keep outside collaborators singing in tune.” At Ernst & Young an interactive brand quiz was developed to help employees become brand savvy. When employees answered 80% of the questions correctly, they receive a Global Brand Ambassador certificate. At Citigroup, a thought book communicates the central unifying principles of the brand identity program. A brand education program, whatever its form, distributed throughout the company (and with creative partners), develops brand ambassadors and long-time survival of the brand.