I’ve been reflecting on the idea of operationalizing brands this quarter as it relates to our clients and to us. After close to two decades in this industry, I’ve experienced first hand how challenging it can be to operationalize change even at a mid-sized company like INK. Clients at corporations of all sizes struggle with this same challenge. When you pull back the veneer of even the most impactful branding campaign, the mechanics of what it takes behind the scenes is a study in the art of change management.
The fact is, that operationalizing a brand, from the inside out is easy to design and hard to implement. It’s tough to get buy in from internal stakeholders, to create a compelling ROI story that will justify the investment. It is tough to get constituents to adopt a new mantra even when they know the old one feels tired or worn out. And even when you get through the arduous process of getting expenditures toward internal training and culture building approved, challenges remain. The will to implement change over weeks, months and years—while faced with a myriad of other pressures including quarterly sales and profit goals—can be Herculean.
That being said, I strongly believe that dedication to operationalizing a brand is a key indicator of a company’s future success. When customers, constituents and even competitors see the results of your efforts, they will buy in. Over our 10-year history at INK, we’ve been fortunate to view the inner workings of several well-known companies. Those that meet or exceed their valuation goals generally recognize that the investment in an external brand can only be actualized if a greater investment in operationalizing that brand is embraced. They have been unafraid to make bold changes in their products, their pricing structure or their hiring and training methodology. The courage to change whatever is necessary to truly live their brand promise each and every day—and with every customer interaction—is what separates good brands from great brands.
It is really the marriage of style and substance that leads to success—a compelling external brand that tells a winning story, and an operational structure that lives that story at every touch point.