Mary K’s Top Ten Best Practices
for Communicating Organizational Identity and Brand
Best practices are important for communicating organizational identity and brand strategy because it supports the organization in how to engage consumers either has the brand itself or as ambassadors. In the marketplace, “the reality is that having a strong brand has never been more critical. While this digital connectedness has changed the way we communicate, it’s also made having a recognizable brand more important than ever before” (Jones, 2012, pg. 8).
#10 – BE A GOAL DIGGER! Your organization should have a well-established goal for the brand(s), employees (brand ambassadors), and consumers. It’s true “your brand is not what you say you are – it’s what you do” (Yohn, 2014, location 156). A great example of an organization that has their goal front and forward is “Women In Radio” LLC they are “an organization for the support & advancement for women in the radio industry” (Women In Radio, n.d., para. 1). This organization fosters dialogue, sharing, storytelling, and promotes that it is a safe place for women by their engagement on their website https://www.womeninradio.org/, all social platforms, and networking sessions.
#9 – “SELL THAT SIZZLE” (Ford, 2019, pg. 38). I totally subscribe to Jerome Ford’s 23 branding commandments and especially #8. Ford, a radio veteran recalled a time where he asked a sales person “what makes a good sales person? George replied, I don’t sell the steak, I sell the sizzle” (Ford, 2019, pg. 38). The sizzle is the experience and tying in the emotional benefits of the sizzle that comes along with the steak. This is a great tool and all of his branding tips are excellent. You can check out his book here >>> https://www.amazon.com/23-Commandments-Branding-Strategies-Business-ebook/dp/B07H9CQ82G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1548971661&sr=8-1&keywords=23+Commandments+of+Branding
#8 – WHAT DIFFERENTIATES YOU? In times of exact replica of brands, what differentiates you? What sets you apart from the other organizations? Across the globe there are hundreds of women who wear a bra. Your first bra shopping experience is a rite of passage. The lingerie market is vast and “has occupied a significant position in the apparel industry in recent years as it not only serves its functional benefits but also is considered as an basic necessity to every woman” (Report Buyer, 2017, para. 1). There are hundreds of lingerie organizations and one that truly stands out from the rest is Victoria Secret because they are in the mode of selling the experience. Victoria Secret still dominates the lingerie industry and “owes it success to its annually over-the-top Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, it’s a brand that creates celebrities, a close attention to the customer experience, a perfect mix of offline and online experiences, and a wise international expansion strategy” (Hartman, 2014, para. 1 – 6). The fashion show is so extreme that artist performances are intertwined with modeling and lingerie. This video is from the 2018 show with Shawn Mendes > https://youtu.be/qUIJ5HFz5Jc
#7 – ESTABLISH TRUST! Trust goes a long way with consumers and employees (brand ambassadors) of an organization. Great organizations develop brand consistency by establishing trust through reliability, dependability, and communicating a clear message about the brand strategy. It’s so true that “there’s an old saying in business: People do business with people they like” (Solis, 2013, location 1708). Brand consistency can also be called costumers trust is imperative to brand survival. The reason that trust is paramount is due to there are so many options for consumers and it keeps growing. I did a Google search for “where to buy Born This way Too Faced foundation.” There were five instant results on where to buy the product and its price. However, I will only go to Sephora to buy that and any other makeup product because I like them. The makeup consultants always take their time with me, there is a rewards program, I receive discounts, the stores are always clean, the music is always moving, and most importantly I trust them which equals brand affinity.
#6 – DEBRIEF! I believe organizations should debrief after every event, promotion, and execution plan. It’s great to round up your team to give and receive feedback that can benefit the performance of the team. My experience is that organizations only debrief when something failed or after a crisis. I believe you should debrief after anything major has taken place because if it went well there are still ways to improve and debriefing helps identify those areas. I learned this system about ten years ago when Jim Murphy, Founder and CEO of Afterburner and Author of The Courage to Execute was our keynote speaker at our yearly company meeting. Murphy was the Chief of Training for the Georgia Air National Guard. His main responsibility was to keep 42 combat-trained fighter pilots ready to deploy worldwide within 72 hours. He shared with us that after every flight mission as soon as they were on land they headed into their debriefing room. This took place for every single flight mission. Murphy then related the importance after business missions were completed to “debrief in a nameless, rankless environment. – They key is to ask those questions, why? So, we can develop a step by step lessons learned based not only on the result but the root cause” (Afterburner, 2011). I use debriefing after radio station events to determine what actually happened verse what we planned to happened which allows us to review the engagement with our listeners. Here is his video newsletter here > https://youtu.be/cky-yiXVboE
#5 – TELL YOUR STORY! – Don’t let anyone tell YOUR story because you cannot control the narrative. I worked for Doug James from 2015-2018 and he was an excellent manger and leader. He was also named Radio Ink’s 30 Best Mangers in Radio for 2018! I learned many things from him but the most important was the concept of “telling your story” and how that can shift the conversation. The shift in dialogue can be an important factor for organizations, employees, and consumers because of the competitive nature of the marketplace. James’ application was in the field of radio where employees had the power to guide the conversations with clients, other employees, and listeners about what our radio stations (brands) represented. This is storytelling at its finest and leads to establishing engagement and experiences with those you interact with when you “tell your story.” To have the platform to tell your story is exciting because you are able to articulate “what your organization stands for and what it represents can be the foundation for a meaningful competitive advantage” (Solis, 2013, location 1756).
#4 – BRING VALUE! Organizations have many tasks going at one time, like a high profile social media campaign in motion, a new celebrity endorser television campaign, a brand new product roll out events across the country, and more – all at the same time. Ask yourself often, does this bring value to my organization/brand? Organizational leadership should ensure that “brand values need to be spelled out, on paper. After all, your employees are your best brand champions and you can’t expect them to stay true to something they don’t even understand” (Furgurson, 2010, para. 29). It’s also a great idea as an employee to be sure that your bring value to the organization because you contribute to the overall success of the operation. Forbes offered seven contributions indispensable employees make to their companies; “bottom line impact, productivity, positivity, reliability, creativity, diplomacy, and marketability” (Levine, 2015, para. 2- 8).
#3 – “BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME” – We live in a world of instant gratification. Often organizations, employees/brand ambassadors, and consumers want results now. Please always keep in mind when you deploy a new tactic you must adopt the mentality of “build it and they will come.” It works, I promise – just stay the course. In 2014, I developed some new processes on how my team handled Facebook content with the goal being to create engagement. The radio station’s fan page prior was click bait content. The on air personalities were getting frustrated because listeners were not talking back with them in the comment sections. They pressed forward and eventually it was like magic, the engagement ratios went through the roof. Engagement creates experiences for consumers so it is known that “companies that engage with their customers via social media have more loyal customers. Better yet, customers who engage with a brands online report spending 20% to 40% more on that brand, or on that company’s products” (Lea, 2012, para. 2).
#2 – “ORIGINAL CONTENT PLUS ORIGINAL PICTURES ALWAYS WINS” and almost never gets you sued. I have found that consumers gravitate towards more originality because it provides authenticity. A great winning example is in adopting this philosophy was how radio station WOSF went from 3K in Facebook followers in 2014 to 72K by summer 2018. The benefit of this mindset is that this practice creates engagement with consumers on a more personal experience level. The bonus is that most often you never get you sued. You would be amazed at the millions of lawsuits over the violation of photograph copyright infringement.
Drum roll please
#1 – AUTHENTICITY! Be authentic! Be original! This is super important when communicating organizational identity and branding. Consumers can spot out a fake very quickly. Organizations at times follow trends of other organizations and this “always put your brand identity at risk by following them” (Yohn, 2014, location 302). I say be the trendsetter by being authentic in your brand as well as your engagement because “although consumers generally do value products’ tangible qualities, the lifestyle and image of the product should never be neglected” (Gobe’, 2001, pg. 3). This is a great Ted Talk with Jennifer Gillivan about Embracing your authentic self > https://youtu.be/wa9LmKL7tJ8
Afterburner Videos. (2011, July 25). Fighter Pilot Speaks on Project Debriefing. [Video File] Retrieved from https://youtu.be/cky-yiXVboE
Ford, J. (2019). The 23 Commandments of Branding: How to grow your brand without going broke. Amazon Books.
Gobe’, M. (2001). Emotional branding: The new paradigm for connecting brands to people. New York: Allworth
Hartman, M. (2014, December 14). What Makes Victoria’s Secret Successful? Retrieved from https://www.incplan.net/blog/entrepreneurial-profiles-advice/makes-victorias-secret-successful/
James, D. (2015). Personal Communication.
Jones, S. (2012). Brand like a rock star: Lessons from Rock ‘n Roll to make your business rich and famous. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group
Levine, C. (2015, October 22). Seven Contributions Indispensable Employees Make To Their Companies. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinecenizalevine/2015/10/22/seven-contributions-indispensable-employees-make-to-their-companies/#63f1c563b56f
Report Buyer. (2017, July 19). Lingerie Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2016-2024. Retrieved from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/lingerie-market—global-industry-analysis-size-share-growth-trends-and-forecast-2016—2024-300491260.html
Shawn Mendes. (2013, December 3). Shawn Mendes – Lost in Japan (Live From The Victoria’s Secret 2018 Fashion Show). [Video File] Retrieved from https://youtu.be/qUIJ5HFz5Jc
Solis, B. (2013). What’s The Future of Business: Changing The Way Businesses Create Experiences. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Women In Radio [@womeninradio]. (n.d.). [Instagram Profile] Retrieved January 31, 2019, from https://www.instagram.com/womeninradio/
Women In Radio [@womeninradio]. (2019, January 30). Cocktails and Cupcakes [Instagram Photograph] Retrieved January 31, 2019, from https://www.instagram.com/p/BtR3fK2llZw/
Yohn, D. L. (2014). What great brands do: The seven brand-building principles that separate the best from the rest (1st ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, a Wiley Brand.