Getting across your brand values

Swift Electrical’s commercial director Malcolm Scott is inspired by a speech on brand values at the KBSA conference

A presentation during the KBSA’s annual conference in Stratford-upon-Avon in September certainly got me thinking.

Billed as a ‘talk about brands’, I expected the type of presentation that would only be relevant to very large businesses. What I actually got was a world-class presentation about the importance of ensuring that ALL customer-facing parts of all businesses show the same enthusiasm and core values as the business does.

Rita Clifton who gave the presentation has a truly impressive career history, including a period as vice-chairman of the Saatchi & Saatchi advertising agency, which operates in 76 countries and has represented great brands like Cadbury, Toyota, Asda and Orange. Rita followed that with a period as UK chairman of

Interbrand, the global brand support business with headquarters on Fifth Avenue in New York and offices in 22 countries, working with brands like Microsoft, Nissan, Samsung and Xerox and publishing the annual Index of Best Global Brands.

Rita is currently a non-executive director of internet fashion retailer ASOS, chairman of BrandCap, the strategic brand consultancy, and Populus, the research and opinion pollster.

She also received a CBE in the 2014 New Year’s Honours List for services to the advertising industry.

She asked the simple question – what is a brand? Rita argued that every business is a brand, since a brand is simply a label used by a business to help consumers identify it more easily.

If you are a sole trader operating a kitchen studio that operates under your name, that name is a brand, as it will generate a string of deliberate and incidental messages that customers associate with the business.

To use the example of my employer, Swift – for most of our customers, the delivery driver or the sales office is the main interface with the brand. So, it is essential that they demonstrate the same ethos and give the same message about customer service as our regional managers and our trade publications.

The core message delivered by Rita was that when we are all busy, it can be easy to forget that the message about our brand is delivered every time there is any interaction with a customer, not just when we are making a sales pitch.

Our message about being professional, always wishing to be helpful and trying harder than our competitors can quickly be undermined if we are not keeping track of all customer interfaces.

It’s not enough to say we care; we must demonstrate this through the basic behaviour of every employee each and every time they come into contact with customers.

Do you know if the drivers who deliver your kitchen always look presentable? Do you know if any third-party tradesmen you use always look professional? Are you confident that, when you are out of the office, all consumers get a warm and enthusiastic welcome?

The message is exactly the same for bigger companies. An after-sales service engineer who is not properly trained can undermine many years of positive advertising and marketing.

The driver who says ‘it is not my job to help you get the stock into the storeroom’ can undermine the great job done by the sales manager. A ‘blame someone else’ message from a sales office, such as ‘our driver forgot’, can seem like a lame excuse from a business that simply does not care.

Food for thought.

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