2009 Recalibration: Part 6

Is your internal brand clear and compelling?

Throughout this series I've encouraged you to "recalibrate" your approach to your business by addressing six questions:

1. Where is the latent profit in your business?
2. How can your current customers help you unleash that latent profit?
3. How does the economic situation help you focus your new customer acquisition efforts?
4. Is your brand strategy right for the times, i.e., what do you want your customers to think about you?
5. Are you communicating optimally with customers at all touchpoints?

And ... the subject of today's post:

6. How clear and compelling is your internal brand?

[Download a PDF from Yastrow.com presenting the six steps graphically.]

Our theme all along has been that your world has completely changed, not only because the economic situation is new, but because the economic mayhem has changed the way your customers think, act, decide, judge, evaluate ... and live. You have to recalibrate, because your customers are recalibrating.

What about the people who work in your company? Two very important points:

1. Your employees/colleagues are also living in a different world, which changes the way they think, act, and decide. Who do you know that's doing their job today the same way they did a year ago?
2. Recalibration is a company-wide affair. In our previous articles in this series we have discussed how your company must interact with its customers differently, and communicate its story in a way that is relevant with the times. Your ability to do this depends on the entire team working off the same page, communicating one clear, compelling, relevant story to customers.
So, how clear and compelling is your internal brand? Does the entire team have a "shared belief of who we intend to be" that transcends the generic language of mission statements, helping everyone understand how the company is recalibrating and what their personal role is in this change?

This economic turmoil, and the 24-hour news cycle that promotes it, has caused significant uncertainty in people's lives. There is a number no one can calculate, which I am sure is in the trillions, that describes the number of work hours wasted this year as people fret over their own circumstance or commiserate with people about "what might happen."

As 2009 began, a client and I were preparing to share a new brand strategy with their team, which included about 400 employees. The strategy was designed to help both employees and customers think of the company in a whole new way, representing a new direction in which the company was headed. We were scheduling a series of employee meetings where we would describe the strategy and then engage the employees in discussions about how they could fulfill this strategy in their work. Unfortunately, as was happening in so many companies this past January, my client's company went through a staff reduction, cutting about 5% of its workforce. Questions came up: Is it appropriate to have branding workshops at a time when we're cutting staff? After all, doesn't this seem superfluous when people are losing their jobs?
As the CEO of this company agreed, this was exactly the time to move forward with this initiative, full-steam ahead. In a time of uncertainty, people in your company need clarity and confidence, and one of the best ways to give them clarity and confidence is to ensure that they know exactly where the company is headed, what it is doing to engage customers, and what each person in the company's role is in creating the company's future.

A strong internal brand is critical anytime, but it's especially critical now. Assume that your mission statement is outdated, incomplete, and irrelevant. Focus on creating a "shared belief of who we intend to be" that will not only create clarity and confidence throughout your organization, but motivate people to participate in the most important project of 2009:

Recalibration.