Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
It’s a simple maxim. Yet many organisations fail to achieve brand potential by failing to align the language which articulates their internal and external communications.
There is no doubt that strong, corporate brands generate superior performance and endurance. Those that “live and breathe” the brand from the inside-out build a competitive advantage that’s hard to beat.
The most powerful and authentic brands are those that align three key elements: strategic vision, corporate (or internal) culture and external brand image. The reasons are obvious – the brand values are not skin deep. Nor are they meaningless boardroom rhetoric. They are an integral part of the culture and directly impact how everyone inside and outside the organisation perceives it. They’re reputation-builders extraordinaire.
At first blush, it seems a daunting task to align messages that have very different points of origin. The boardroom is generally responsible for the strategic direction, HR looks after the internal culture and marketing churns out the external communications. So, how do you get everyone on the same page?
By understanding that what really matters to top level managers, also matters to the sales team, to the marketing division, to the HR team, to the people who deal with your clients … and to your clients themselves.
How they “feel” about your organisation will determine how hard they work, how energetically they sell, how positively they communicate, how long they stay or, in the case of customers, how enthusiastically they take-up your offers, products or services.
You can help accomplish that “feeling” by developing some language “rules” that prescribe how key messages are communicated in and outside your enterprise, and then equipping everyone (including the board, HR and marketing) with the tools they need to achieve unified brand expression.
While a style manual protects and reinforces your visual brand (by prescribing how to apply your logo, company colours, corporate font), development of a corporate language resource ensures that what is said or written by anyone within your organisation is also consistent with the brand.
Translating strategic direction (from the high-level corporate-speak in which it may have been shaped) into easily-understood key messages for internal use in newsletters, emails, memos, intranet, manuals, training materials, presentations and meetings:
- builds employee engagement and cross-cultural practices
- strengthens employees’ ownership for delivery of the organisational goals
- fosters a sure sense of belonging.
Equipped with clear, concise phrasing and positive vocabulary, your team can embrace the strategic goals and put them into everyday use in their written communications and conversations. They can frame their upstream, downstream and peer interactions in terms of collective objectives.
Your team (who, afterall, deliver your brand) can share the same understanding of the brand promise that the boardroom and the customers have. There’s no smoke and mirrors. You said what you meant in the boardroom and now your people are meaning what they say to your customers.
By taking the next step, and interpreting the same key messages into language that suits your external audience, you bridge the gap between what your brand promises and what it delivers. The customised external language will depend on the demographics of your target audience and getting the right pitch and emotional connection levels are critical. Just keep the essence congruent with the internal messages and you will be rewarded with all sorts of synergies in terms of brand consistency, reinforcement and purpose.
Say what you mean, and mean what you say. It’s authentic. It’s powerful. It’s pure branding, inside and out.