Once an organization decides to develop and implement a comprehensive brand strategy, the project usually maintains momentum - at least until phase one hits the market. After that, progress tends to depend on whether or not management is treating brand building as an event or a process.
First of all, we should clarify what we mean by a “comprehensive” brand strategy. These projects extend well beyond creating new brand names and logos and seek to change the way a company manages the overall experience. That means affecting the way employees perceive their role, what they do, and how they do it. In other words, the whole company is affected when developing a comprehensive brand strategy, not just marketing. Thus, branding becomes an enterprise-wide affair.
We’ve found that roughly six months into a brand strategy implementation is a critical time for most companies. Typically, the market research and strategy development are complete and there have been high levels of support and participation by senior management. Also, employees have been engaged, the product has been tweaked, new service programs have been developed, and riveting new marketing has been deployed against a strict plan. In a sense, the project seems to be complete now that implementation has occurred.
Of course, in reality, brand management is just beginning. In our observation, organizations have to keep branding on the agenda with senior management in order to maintain momentum. Establishing roles and responsibilities for ongoing brand tracking and management is essential and usually requires new, dedicated resources. Generally, assigning brand management to a fully deployed marketing manager is not the best approach. Instead, conducting annual or even semi-annual brand tracking is an effective and useful tool in keeping brand management on the front burner. Checking in with customers on evolving brand perceptions and how those perceptions influence preference, draws broad interest within the company.
When does it get easier? We’re not sure that it does but the flywheel analogy certainly applies here. Like a flywheel, getting branding underway is difficult and will stall immediately should efforts wane. However, once underway, the process begins to move forward with its own momentum and efforts to keep it in motion are much less straining. The tipping point seems to be when the organizational culture knows how to respond on brand intuitively, in any situation.