You’ve worked so hard to build up and deliver an amazing culture and business. You have 5 star ratings on social media and your customers can’t stop raving about you. Whether it’s a product or a service you’re selling, you’re doing something right. Well done!
BUT… to be blunt, what happens if you get run over by a bus tomorrow. What would happen to this amazing culture and business that you have worked so hard to achieve. Is your children’s inheritance and your team’s ability to pay their mortgages about to die with you?
Capturing “The Way Things Are Done Around Here”
Having something concrete for your team and management to refer to will not only ensure consistency today but also create a legacy and ensure the culture of your brand continues.
Hello Brand Standards!
Brand Standards. Brand Book. Brand Bible. Our Way. Whatever you would like to call it, cataloguing “the way things are done around here” are essentially a physical manifestation of the living breathing company that you and your family have created. Without it, your brand could spin out into an inconsistent set of representations.
Brand Standards are a set of rules about how your business works. Used by your team it helps them to understand your brand and to know how to use brand elements. They can be updated and amended as and when you wish. They can cover as much or as little as you like and be added to over time. In our last blog we wrote about Reputation Management. Well, in it’s simplest terms, the impact getting your brand standards written, produced, briefed and lived can be the difference between great reputation and growth or a slating on social media and a sales heading south.
Whether you’re Tesco’s, British Gas, the florist on the high street or the local bakery, customers who have a bad experience through poor delivery of standards will decide not to return and tell around 10 other people face to face; imagine how many more via social media!
Conversely, think what will happen when (even if you’re not there) everything you’ve poured into your business, all that time and resource you’ve invested continues to be delivered day in, day out to your excellent standards…
Where To Begin?
There’s a lovely piece of jargon the big boys use and they usually fight over whether to call it a customer journey or customer touch points. Whatever takes your fancy, it’s simply laying out the process which a customer comes into contact with your brand, product, service, human being, telephone, point of sale etc etc.
Once you’ve identified these for your own product or service, grab a big piece paper and some coloured pens and start working through “What could go wrong” at each step and work out a solution for each step. Then, look at any customer feedback you may have about anything and see what part of this “customer journey” they refer to.
Now it’s time to write your standards. A good idea to have some “non negotiables” for each one. For example, if you’re a retailer, a non negotiable could be that no team member ever ignores a passing customer and greets them appropriately. If you’re an online retailer, all enquiries are acknowledged within 15 minutes of receipt and dealt with in a personal manner within 1 hour.
The list goes on and yes, it can be time consuming. Another tip; if you are a company of size and have a few shall we say “influential” team members, get them involved right from the start. It will be much easier to get their buy in and then to brief onwards to the rest of your team and make them live. Believe me, I speak from experience!
Is It Worth It?
Well, I’m going to say yes because I’ve been a Brand Manager, I’ve been a Marketing Director and I’ve been a Managing Director and I have seen how having even the basic consistent standards can make the difference to plus or minus growth. One thing’s for sure, I would never part with my marketing budget if I knew that the brand standards were not being met; driving customers onto a burning ship is not my idea of good ROI! What’s the saying? You can’t polish a… I’ll leave it there.