This post is a bit of a ramble. I’ll admit that up front because someone is likely to point it out if I don’t.
It concerns an issue I’ve been thinking about for some time now. How do you keep your brand personality consistent as employees come and go and the face of your company changes over time? I don’t have a great answer. Maybe someone reading this will spark up and offer an idea or two.
There’s an indie coffee place down the street from the David Allison Inc. home office, a very hip and cool place. There were a couple guys working there who clearly were having fun making macchiatos and selling sodas. They had a running commentary going all day about who was in the place and who had left the place, with some light-hearted teasing and questioning of each other’s professional and personal prowess. Standing in line to get your caffeine was enjoyable and a bit of a lark.
But then they were gone. Everything about the place — the product, the prices, etc. —remained the same, but these two guys who were the personification of the brand were suddenly missing. The new hires were fine. Nice folks. Earnest even. But it wasn’t the same. I stopped going because the experience felt like something less than it was before. I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed that the brand had changed irrevocably.
Maintaining brand consistency
How do you make sure the hard and soft aspects of your brand personality are passed down within your company from one generation of employees and managers to the next? How do you stay on your charted course when a key individual or two who were responsible for any number of little unspoken daily course corrections are no longer part of the team?
One obvious answer is to identify those pivotal individuals within the company and make sure they have an understudy. Don’t be so exposed that your brand grinds to a halt if one key individual leaves the control panel.
Of course your brand purpose, brand values, brand personality, etc. are all written down and shared amongst all your staff, right? And of course your brand is so central to everything you do that there’s an institutional continuity that rises above any one individual within the organization, correct? So that’s something. (If not, we should have a chat. You need this.)
Public face of the brand
Still, as brands are involved with more and more daily communication and interaction with prospects and consumers, there are small nuances that defy our most noble attempts to codify and quantify. In many respects today, the public face of the brand and the personality of the individuals responsible for the public face of the brand are hard to separate.
I’m not sure what to do about this. Maybe the control that I’m yearning for is merely a remnant of my pre-digital era lizard brain, an urge for orderliness still not fully extinguished by the new realities of the no-control marketplace.
I know one thing: we need to think about this.
As more and more of our brand personality is being determined by a 1,000 tweets and blogs and calls and comments, it’s going to get harder and harder to remain consistent as more and more people in an organization — some of whom come and go — are responsible for representing the brand. Consistency has always been central to the discipline of brand-building.
Anyone have thoughts they care to share?
David Allison works with executive teams in real estate development and other industries to craft the early-stage vision and brand for projects of all kinds. He crystallizes the most interesting version of any story for early stakeholder engagement, internal audiences, regulatory approvals, consultant briefings and investor recruitment. His award-winning work in the real estate sector alone spans decades and continents. His most recent book, The Stackable Boomer, examines the movement of baby boomers to multi-family homes, and includes research results from a 1,000-boomer survey. He can be reached at [email protected].