Neglect Your Brand’s Weakest Link at Your Peril

Building a brand takes time and work. You need to understand many factors, such as your value proposition, audience, industry, competitors, etc. However, as much as these brand factors are discussed, dissected, and debated, one vital audience often gets forgotten— your internal audience.

Brands are born in meeting rooms with marketers, product managers, salespeople, and key decision-makers. The goal of creating a brand is to help sell your product or service and build your company. Even so, less thought, if any, is given to building the brand internally.

Company employees engage with vendors and customers every day and are an essential component of your company’s success. But, how much effort are you giving to making sure your employees are brand ambassadors?

Do Your Employees Know Your Brand Story?

Do your employees know your company’s “origin story,” how you came to be? Or your company’s vision and mission? Further, do you know if they feel they are a part of the vision or mission? Have you communicated where the company is going and what the status is right now? Do they feel like part of the team? Or have you even spoken of the importance of their role to the overall strength of the company?

Indeed, it’s clear that anyone outward facing who deals with customers needs to understand the brand. However, what is less obvious is that everyone in an organization also needs to understand the brand. And it’s because they represent it too.

Drinking The Kool-Aid

People want to belong; we are social animals by nature. And the more we feel we have a place in the society we live in, the happier we are. Generally, leaders create buy-in with staff by sharing the importance of their roles to the company’s overall success and how it fits into the mission.

When employees buy in to the company vision and their role in it, they are more willing to work towards its success.  It’s not unlike consumer brand loyalty with their customers. The relationship needs to go both ways and be rewarded, encouraged, and nurtured.  Certainly, a successful brand has both a solid foundation and unwavering support to keep it healthy. Overall, never take employee dedication and advocacy for granted.

Building Internal Awareness

Communication is the essential tool to building your internal team’s brand awareness. It’s more than just updates and pep talks. It’s letting team members know they are part of something big, something that matters. In fact, many giant companies do this. Google and Apple are good examples. When you look at smaller companies, you see those efforts diminish.

Why don’t smaller companies focus on an internal message? The reason usually given is time and money. Big companies can do internal culture-building because of their size. Or the assumption goes. But in fact, the reality is that they’ve been so successful because they focused on their company’s internal culture from the beginning as a part of building their brand.

We live in the information age. People must deal with a lot of content directed at them. To be sure employees faced with internal emails, videos, calls, and memos are just more examples of it.

Failure to Make an Impact

The biggest failure I’ve seen with internal programs is the lack of ongoing support and focused communications. A good example is when an organization launches a company-wide education or awareness program. First, its launch consists of a mention at a meeting and posters in the office.

The program’s purpose fails to make an impact. And it’s not mentioned again. Over time, employees begin to ignore each new campaign.  Because they know it’s just going to fade away. Without a doubt, it does, and it’s more than a missed opportunity; it’s a failure to lead.

You already have some of the best possible resources available to help build your brand. Don’t let them be an opportunity wasted. Don’t let the people you rely on to make your products and services the best, get overlooked. They won’t be the weakest link in building your brand. Your leadership will.




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Call or email us to discover how C3S’s pragmatic approach to branding can help you reach your business goals.

What Is The Value Of Your Mission Statement?

A couple years ago I attended a “Chicago Tech on the Horizon” panel event at MATTER, in the Merchandise Mart. One question asked was, “what’s the difference between Millennials and Gen Z employees?” The panel all agreed in saying that Gen Z is very mission driven.

In fact, Gen Z looks for mission statements when researching new employers. For them, the mission is something to be embraced and becomes their goal to help realize. Once achieved, they are ready for the new purpose. They will also seek out brands to engage with that have a larger purpose that aligns with their values.

For them, a mission statement must be authentic. If these Gen Z consumers find other sections of a website talking about something that contradicts the mission or undermines it, they close that door. This behavior highlights how important a mission statement is and how important it is to be authentic.  Empty words have no value for Gen Z or anyone.

A Brand Pillar

Your mission statement is one of your most essential brand elements. It speaks to who you are and what you value. It’s not just something you throw up on a webpage so that you can check that box.

It should also be a litmus test for all your messaging.

If your mission speaks to social awareness, but you support events that feature industries known for undermining those values, you need to think hard about who you are.

If the opposite is true, you need to think about what your core values are. For example, your company gives back and supports its employees doing the same, but your mission speaks only of creating the best widget. You are out of messaging alignment.

Messaging Through-Thread

A messaging through-thread begins at the vision/mission and extends to sales interaction with prospects and end-users. If this thread is knotted or cut or broken, your market will know. Equally important, if you don’t think about how your mission drives your business, you may never see the disconnect yourself.

You don’t need to reference your mission statement in every headline, media posting, or spec sheet, but it does need to align with all those things. They should all support the larger brand story that has the mission at its heart.

The benefit may not be something you realize every day. Building a relationship takes time, and brands building a relationship with their audience requires time and patience. It may be because it’s natural to humanize things like a brand to give them personal characteristics. When we do, we start to seek the qualities in a brand, that we want in a person we have a relationship with – honesty, integrity, intelligence, humor, or authenticity.

The feeling of a separation of business and consumers that mirrored a class system is gone. The famous Henry Ford quote, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” It would only be acceptable if it were ironic. Even then, this takes it or leave it attitude doesn’t speak to a mission today’s generation would want to get behind.


Great Sales Tools Don’t Just Happen.

Call or email us to discover how C3S’s smart approach to branding can help you reach your business goals.

Is Your Website The Perfect Dinner Party?

Would your guests look forward to coming back? Or did you open a bag of chips, provide red plastic cups for drinks, and trusted that visitors would figure things out for themselves?

Bringing together like-minded people who share common interests can make for a great event.

A great host works to make sure everyone has a good experience. First, they prepare a menu that offers a mix of foods and drinks to satisfy their guests. Next, they let guests know what to expect (relaxed or glitzy), which helps set the mood in advance. Also, if the host has assigned you seating, the goal is to match people with common interests to encourage the liveliest of conversations. Finally, they will also book entertainment with the audience in mind.

The guests will remember and discuss an enjoyable party experience. Moreover, future invitees will enthusiastically accept their invitations.  After all, a good host covers the basics then fine-tunes the details to create an atmosphere that works for everyone. In short, the efforts made by the host make the experience memorable.

Proactive Or Reactive?

Change food, drinks, and entertainment to content like blogs, videos, white papers, and you’ll find it’s the same thought process. For example, how much thought did you put into each part of your site? Was your audience the main driver for each decision, or was everything there because you heard you needed something like a video, blog, or whitepaper?

Videos are great but are they the kind your audience likes? There is value in humor and education. And in telling stories about things that impact people’s lives.  However, does the comedy match your audience? Are you teaching them something they can use today? Further, is the story relatable? Is the video’s purpose for you to say you have a video, or was it made to bring your audience value?

Saying all websites are just the same elements mixed in different ways is like saying chicken nuggets and chicken cordon bleu are both just breaded chicken.  Basically, you can’t analyze the pieces without context. If you don’t consider the context and the audience, your conclusions will be misleading and, ultimately, useless.

Learn About Your Audience

Even within one target group, there will be diversity, but there are more commonalities. It is the shared commonalities visitors or guest share that is the heart of what you want to understand. Take the opportunity to learn what your clients like and don’t like, what they think and want. Use your access to your client to interview them, ask them questions. Find out where they go to get industry content.

Also, learn about your competitor’s websites. What do you, as part of their audience, like about their websites? Pay attention to what sites you return to and what pulls you back?

Also, explore what’s popular, both for your industry and in general. It is common for cultural and consumer popular trends to show up in B2B marketing.  Ask yourself, are there things you can apply to your marketing, such as shorter videos, adding animation, or making an employee a star?

Don’t be afraid to experiment with content like humor. For instance, try parody if you think it suits your audience. If satire doesn’t work, try wordplay. It’s important to understand that even things that work will eventually run out of steam. And then it will be time to try something different. The odds are that if you create content, as a viewer, you think it is excellent, the audience will like it.

Something Worth Celebrating

In the end, much like an event you organize, your website should reflect your personality and sensibilities.  At the same time, it’s like meeting someone new at the party that you want to know better. In this case you show your best side, charm, humor, intelligence, accomplishments, or just listen and have a great time together. Because having a great experience, you would like to repeat, is what a great dinner party is all about, as is a great website.



Great Sales Tools Don’t Just Happen.

Call or email us to discover how C3S’s smart approach to branding can help you reach your business goals.

What’s Your Professional Reputation Worth?

Your reputation is essential. You have two choices. One, you can cultivate a reputation.  Or two have one given to you by others. Indeed, you can work to build a reputation that puts your strengths and experiences top of mind, or you can let your clients and everyone in your industry draw their conclusions and hope that they say nice things about you.

The problem is “hope” has never been a viable marketing strategy… and your reputation is simply another term for your brand.

Nice Logo

Some think of a logo or color palette when they think of the word brand. It’s true, a brand does include those things, but it’s much more than that. Overall, a brand includes everything that reflects you. It includes your employees and all the material you develop to communicate who and what your company is. Further, it’s your website, social media posts, email signature, your business card, tradeshow booths, invoices, every presentation, brochure, video, voicemail, etc. In sum, they are all part of your brand.

Building a brand is critical to stand out in the marketplace. And It takes considerable time, thought, and effort to do it right.

What Are They Saying About You Behind Your Back?

How do you know what your real reputation/brand is? One exercise you can do to get a simple snapshot is to think of words that best describe what you want your company to represent.

Chiefly, keep it simple and try to keep it to a few words, one word if possible. For example, if you’re a service company, you might think of words like “Reliable” and “Friendly.” And if you’re in finance, you may think of words like “Conservative” and “Responsible.” For this purpose, depending on what you do and your industry, you may find words like “Progressive” or “Playful” appropriate.

It might help to ask others in your company to participate but understand that you may not agree on words. What’s more, if you find you can’t keep it to a few words, then your brand may not be well defined internally.

Now, review your company vision, mission, and values.  Do the words you thought about align with them? Did you think about expertise, but your vision is about service? However, if they don’t match up, that is a red flag, and you may have some work to do on your brand right now.

Next, with your chosen words in mind, a look at your website and your logo. Unquestionably, you need to be honest. Does your website and logo reflect the words you chose? If you chose words like “progressive,” but your website looks like a government site from 2014, that is a red flag. Or if you chose “friendly,” but the layout is complicated and challenging to navigate, this demonstrates a lack of friendliness.  These examples of red flags indicate your brand is not understood internally. As a result, this misinterpretation of your brand is that is what the world sees.

Your Reputation Precedes You

Companies often struggle with the disconnect from how they see themselves and how they present themselves. Another area to look at is messaging. How good is the copy? Does it tell your story well? Again, if you’re trying to be “Friendly,” but it’s written very formally, it creates a disconnect for clients and potential clients.

There is no one solution to building a strong brand. But there are a few rules. Including having a simple, clear message of who and what you are and why it matters. Don’t be scattershot. Be consistent with this message.  You need to get everyone internally on board before you can expect the outside world to believe it. And it needs to be authentic. We live in a sophisticated cyber world. Everyone is on the lookout and weary of those that “talk the talk” but don’t “walk the walk.”

A strong brand begins with your values and filters down to the footer on your emails. Together they tell the story of you that others remember.

What is your professional reputation worth to you? Your brand is one of your most valuable assets. Do you respect it like one?




Great Sales Tools Don’t Just Happen.

Call or email us to discover how C3S’s pragmatic approach to branding can help you reach your business goals.

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