As we delve deeper into the complex world of branding, after having already looked at the visual and verbal language of brand identity and brand differentiation and brand positioning we are now going to explore an often overlooked aspect of branding, one that could potentially make or break your business. Scary? Yes. The potential to become the best brand you can be? Absolutely. With that in mind, let’s look at the brand contact process with an emphasis on internal marketing and how that will influence your relationships with both internal and external stakeholders.
In order for us to fully grasp the implications and opportunities, I will first briefly define the key ideas and then we’ll jump right in:
Brand contact is “all experiences through which directly, or indirectly, consumers come in contact with the brand or obtain information about the brand” (Wowability, 2008), and the brand contact process is, simply put, how you can better support the brand and the subsequent relationships that is formed with stakeholders and customers. Examples of brand contact points are product points (design, packaging, pricing, distribution, etc.), service points (cashiers, floor staff, receptionists, etc.), planned contact points (advertising campaigns, marketing, sponsorships, etc.) and unplanned points (word-of-mouth, etc.).
Internal marketing is all about your biggest internal stakeholder; the employee. They are your biggest asset and best brand ambassadors, if they are on board. It is about creating an environment where employees can thrive and be inspired by your brand’s values. By ensuring that you have buy-in from your employees, you are ensuring that this massive contact point for external stakeholders is an excellent representation of your brand and what it stands for.
Let’s get a clear idea of how effective brand contact processes and internal marketing can be hugely beneficial to your business by way of an example; the global tech giant and one of the foremost thought leaders in the world: Google.
Video: The History of Google
Google began as a tech startup in 1995 and quickly took the world by storm. Their mantra is infamous: “Don’t be Evil”, but their lesser known values are “… empowerment and avoiding micromanagement… openness, general ethics and corporate citizenship, … fun and freedom” (White, 2015). Their internal marketing is astounding, as can be seen through this video clip of the first week in the life of a Google intern.
Video: Google interns’ first week
They really understand the importance and value of their staff, how they are a precious contact point (even when considering their massive list of contact points, with billions of users everyday). Their diversity project is a good example of this.
There are 5 major points to consider when talking about brand contact 5 points.
Step 1: All points of contact
One can imagine that documenting and collating ALL points of brand contact within an organisation could be a daunting and time-consuming process, and independent brand consulting specialists/companies could be outsourced to facilitate the process together with your internal stakeholders. It should ideally be approached with an ‘outside-in’ attitude and all employees and departments should be involved, in however large a role, in order to build a comprehensive list. Ensure that your employees are part of the process and feel valued by their contribution. Many employees will have a unique view of your brand and its contact points and could prove invaluable to your brand’s success.
Step 2: Primary brand contact patterns
After the comprehensive list has been put together, look for patterns that will emerge from the inventory. One will see a consumer’s journey through interaction with your brand’s touchpoints and you will be able to identify the main patterns and where to focus your efforts. Here your employees will also play a vital role identifying the patterns, and will also be involved as key touchpoints themselves (ex. as a receptionist, or cashier).
Step 3: Most important brand contact points
From the previous step’s focus points patterns a clear list of your most important contact points will emerge. This list can be used to indicate the points that have a bigger influence and therefor can be focused on more. The key variables to identify your most influential touchpoints are; first contact point, last contact point, frequent contact points, impact contact points and resonant contact points. It is clear that employees will be a major factor in all of these variables and play a massive part in how your brand is perceived and engaged with external stakeholders.
Step 4: Brand contact cohesion strategy
The next step is to develop a cohesion strategy, to better the areas that are lacking after critical evaluation.
Step 5: Managing the brand contact cohesion strategy
Management of the strategy will have to be implemented on two levels – through leadership and management (develop the brand identity system) and the the employees, who will have to live the brand.
From this article it is very clear what an important role employees play in a brand contact point strategy. The better the internal marketing, the better the team, the better the brand, the better the connection.
In the next post I will be taking a look at consistent communication for a better brand.
White, 2015. Sarah K. 7 tech giants share their core values
Wowability, 2008. Contact points https://wowability.wordpress.com