There are many elements to consider that affect branding: customers, value propositions, customer service, ability to execute, etc.
One of the areas that people often neglect to think about, at least from a branding perspective, is their resources.
Simply put, your brand’s resources are the people, processes, and systems in place that help you produce your product or service, and execute your goal. These might include things like:
- anyone on your team that interacts with customers
- people who are responsible for designing and making products
- equipment like tools, equipment, vehicles, manufacturing equipment
- automated systems such as emails, phone systems, answering services, and live chat
Exploding Phone Batteries
An example I love to use (and my team is sick of hearing) is Samsung. Specifically, Samsung phones that a while back starting catching on fire, causing terrible damage to property and injury to people.
This scenario raises two important questions:
- Does this affect Samsung’s brand?
- What marketing and advertising campaign fixes this situation?
The first question is obvious: yes of course this affects the Samsung brand. One of the foundations of a brand is the trust it builds and fosters with its customers. But why would anyone trust a spontaneously combusting phone?
With that in mind, it might seem pragmatic to regain the customer’s trust. However, what witty headline, beautiful photograph, or expertly produced video will do that? Marketing, advertising, and design serve to communicate the brand’s promise, or value proposition. A promise, by definition, must be truthful, or its a lie. Therefore, any ad campaign touting the benefits of a Samsung phone is a lie, so long as they continue to catch fire.
The answer to the second question: there is none. At least not yet.
The Source of the Problem
Samsung has a brand problem, but it’s not one that’s solved with advertising and marketing. Rather, the root of the problem is a resource, specifically one in design engineering and manufacturing. Not until the resources are fixed and the problem solved and marketing and advertising begin the arduous task of regaining the customer’s trust. But now, they won’t be spinning a lie.
Resources are the Backbone of Reputation - and a Company
How can this relate to smaller, non-global companies? Let’s say you own a restaurant. You might have great food, an inviting atmosphere, ad reasonable prices. However, you have a server that is routinely rude, gets orders wrong, and all around creates a negative experience for people.
Of course you’ll fire them, but will that happen before the damage is already done? My dad is fond of saying, “people might not say anything if you do a good job, but they’ll stop strangers on the sidewalk to warn them if you screw them over”. Indeed, some of the most motivated online reviewers are often people upset over a faulty product or bad service.
It’s critical to get your resources right, because they are directly responsible for the execution of your brand’s goal (product or service) and the experience customer’s will have with your brand.
With that said, if/when a customer has negative experience (or you receive a negative review), this is an opportunity to demonstrate publically your commitment to make it right. Listen, empathize, admit fault if (and only) indeed there is some, and offer a remedy to the situation.
Get Your Resources Right
Make sure you hire the right people.
This is the most important. After all, these are the folks you’ll depend on to make your product, or execute your service. Everything starts here.
Understand what motivates your employees.
Once you’ve hired the right people, tools like DISC and Myers Briggs assessments can help identify personality traits. Regular communication with your team will help you understand how to better manage and lead your people.
Clearly communicate your goals.
Are your people happy and fulfilled with their job roles? If not, can they be coached, or should they be replaced? Is there something going on outside of their work life that’s affecting work?
Constantly build your bench.
Identify and work with strategic partners that can help you in times when you face capacity shortages or lack the capability to execute. Invest in continuous education programs, whether through online training like SkillShare or in-person classes.
Invest in the tools and equipment people need to be successful.
Your customer won’t care if its the tool’s fault if something didn’t work right - that’s your problem. Reliable, quality equipment makes for more successful employees, and leaves no room for excuses.
Build automations and standard operating procedures.
Well defined, easy to follow systems make it easier for people to make the right decisions when faced with unknown situation. They make it easier to train and onboard new people, which allows people in your organization to be flexible and perform multiple duties. All of this helps make your business more scalable, and ultimately will help you build enterprise value when it comes time to sell (but that’s a topic for another day).
Bring it All Together
The savvy business owner knows that resources are a critical component to the success of their organization, and will invest time, money, and effort to ensure the right resources are in place and tended to frequently.