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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Brand cohesion -- what really matters

This graphic is from the posting The No. 1 Rule / Brand Consistency in Attitude Design Journal, and gives the designer's perspective about brand consistency. However, I don't believe you should sacrifice independent thinking and imagination among your employees to force consistency.

Some marketers fight seemingly endless battles to achieve brand consistency. They wouldn't like very much the way we do things at our business. Take this blog (and that of our employees/contractors), for example. Rather than putting the blog in our own domain name (which I've registered some time ago) you'll still see the designation. And Chase is doing his own thing, with his own account.

You'll find other gaps, inconsistencies, and variations -- the logos aren't always exactly where they 'should' be and employees in this organization aren't muzzled to follow the party line and speak corporately as 'one'.

This reflects a deliberate policy. These branding elements are simply not as important as the value achieved to the brand by empowering employees and contractors here to think creatively, respect clients, and respond with their own solutions when something isn't quite right.

Note: I am certainly not advocating blind 'anything goes' freedom -- you need business controls, especially over your accounting and financials, and owners should never abrogate responsibilities here: (We have a great accounting team, but, in addition to ensuring the regular reports are completed on schedule, I can find time, always, to sign the cheques, and to review the bank statements.)

Equally, employees are expected to show up for the regular weekly meetings and they need a good reason not to be there. (Medical emergencies and vacations are good reasons; a client appointment is not -- unless the employee has tried to reschedule and simply cannot vary the time.) Independent contractors of course are not under similar controls -- a sign of this business's health, however, is how many contractors show up for the meetings without being told to attend!

Nevertheless, outside of these common-sense controls, the rules around here are simple: "Do what is right, with respect for our clients and the community."

Brand consistency, eh. I'll take it we have it right if a client, experiencing a problem, finds we resolve it promptly and fairly; when an employee senses that something isn't quite right, and solves the problem without running to the boss; if everyone works well together, in harmony, yet with the freedom to think for themselves. These values, I think, create the real brand.

Consistent, maybe not, but effective, yes.

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