As brands grow, so do the complexities of marketing campaigns, new product releases, and much more. Often the first victim of this growth is a focused brand strategy. This might seem like an embarrassment of riches when your marketing department has too many ideas to keep straight. In reality, brand misalignment can be confusing and off putting to the public. Brands are only as strong as public perception allows them to be. Coherent, consistent branding practices are the only way to allow brands to grow in a sustainable manner.
That is where brand alignment comes into play. Keeping your brand message on point from the packaging to the product to your social media pages is no easy feat. Here are a few ways to do just that and why brand alignment should remain a top priority.
Defining Brand Alignment in the Modern Age
There are so many ways to reach consumers in the digital age. TV, print, radio, social media accounts, social media ads, email campaigns — the list goes on and on. Where in years past marketing departments only have a few avenues to pin down, the modern marketing campaign will likely touch on a multitude of platforms. So what does this mean for brand alignment?
We believe that focusing on your brand’s core message and brand personality first and foremost allows for brand alignment in so many different arenas. There is simply no earthly way to make an Instagram post “feel” the same as an email. Instead, let the undercurrent of your brand’s core selling points come through.
Now this isn’t to say that the components of brand identity such as logos, taglines, fonts, color schemes, and imagery should not stay consistent. They absolutely should. In the modern age, it is just important to remember that customers expect a consistent message just as much as they expect the same logo on their bottle of Coke.
Understanding Internal vs. External Brand Alignment
Thus far we have mostly discussed brand alignment from the perspective of the public. Brand alignment actually begins internally and grows from there. After all, strong company culture feeds into brand personality and permeates every aspect of a branding strategy. The differences and similarities between internal and external brand alignment are key to any marketing effort.
Internal brand alignment stems from the organization’s understanding of its own brand. Owners, CEOs, executives, managers, and all employees should be on the same page. Are you an upstart company selling an idea of youthful energy or a bluechip selling quality above all else? Are these concepts being reflected in company policy? A prominent example of internal brand alignment is with the now famous workplace culture of Google. Rather than placing an emphasis on traditional workplace values like mandatory hours, mandatory dress codes, etc. Google instead places the focus on performance in a work-friendly environment. The result? Happy employees, creative teams, and excellent customer service.
External brand alignment is what most of us probably think of when we imagine brand alignment. Marketing materials, packaging, and social media accounts all play a role in external brand alignment. As discussed in the previous sections, the key to any brand alignment is first honing in on a strong branding strategy. From there, it is all about consistency of the core message and motifs to deliver a clear message to your customers.
How to Align Your Brand
There is no singular solution for brand alignment. Likewise, it is not a one-time-only deal. Successful companies make brand alignment a priority and keep it as a priority ad infinitum. Here are some high level ways in which your organization can establish and maintain brand alignment:
- Establish brand alignment as an expectation. Let’s face it, brand alignment is not a sexy topic. Without explicit brand alignment goals, this can quickly jump the tracks. A policy of brand alignment as a goal/expectation should be step one.
- Internal brand alignment starts from the top. Executive leadership should all be on the same page when it comes to your brand message and identity. If organizational leaders are not clear on the message, that message will stray further and further from the core with each level of communication on down.
- Align company culture with brand message. This goes back to our Google example. Stuffy offices are more prone to create stuffy material. Strict offices are more likely to follow strict guidelines. More lax environments are more likely to lead to creativity. Identifying your culture and emulating that with employees organically aligns your organization and your brand.
- Monitor brand perception. Are customers confused about your brand message? If so, find out where the breakdown is occurring and address it. Brand alignment is all about clarity and delivering what customers have come to expect.
Powerful Branding Tools from Clock Tower Insight
Clock Tower Insight helps our clients to build their brands through any means necessary. We believe in using cutting edge research to deliver unparalleled insight and understanding into today’s rapidly changing marketplace. With over 15 years of dedicated experience, our marketing insight has helped organizations including Belle Tire, Nielsen, Orbitz, and Kraft Foods. We are proud to offer a number of services to our clients, including customer experience management, brand positioning in the marketplace, market sizing, market testing, and more.