Do you remember when you started your business? I bet it was just you, maybe a mate, a vision, an idea, a whole lot of time and energy (and not much sleep I reckon, too!). For many owners of growing businesses those days can seem a lifetime away, with teams, payrolls and sometimes shareholders to manage, along with all the busy-ness that goes into running a growing operation. As a brand strategist, I’ve witnessed this journey firsthand with numerous businesses, observing the transformation that business owners’ roles undergo as they evolve from a single-person operation to an organisation that employs hundreds, or even thousands, of individuals.
Business growth comes with its own risks and rewards. Brand risk is one of the most insidious.
Let me explain why.
When a business is in its infancy, the owner serves as the primary brand ambassador. Their passion, vision, and values are the heartbeat of the company. But as the business grows, the mantle of brand ambassadorship is handed to a widening circle of individuals: managers, frontline staff, and everyone in between. Suddenly, the owner’s role transitions from sole brand ambassador to the architect of a community of ambassadors.
The implications of this shift are profound. As the business grows, the owner’s brand and legacy are entrusted to the hands of many. The customer experience, once a personal interaction with the owner, is now mediated through employees who may or may not embody the brand’s core values. The brand risk is real: without careful cultivation and clear communication, the brand’s essence could become diluted or even distorted.
On the flip side, when done well, brand ambassadorship by your staff can result in a brand that not only talks the talk: but walks the walk, in every interaction your customers have with the brand. It can lead to a more enriching customer experience as the customers engage with staff who truly embody the brand values.
The secret is a seamless transition of brand ambassadorship – from the owner / founder to the team – underpinned by a strong connection to the company’s original vision and values.
The rewards of an aligned, on-brand team are real
There is no doubt that an organisation’s profitability and performance is directly impacted by customer experience which positively reflects the brand promise.
Companies leading in customer experience outperform the S&P 500 by nearly 80%, while companies lagging in customer experience trail the S&P by almost 50%.
(“2019 Customer Experience ROI Study”, Watermark Consulting, 2019)
Even just moderate improvements in customer experience for a $1 billion company can yield $775 million in revenue over three years.
( “ROI of Customer Experience, 2018”, Temkin Group, 2018)
Customers who have the best brand experiences spend 140% more than those who had poor brand experiences. (“The Value of Customer Experience, Quantified” by Peter Kriss, Harvard Business Review, 2014)
So how do you bring your brand promise to life in your own company?
Here are five failsafe brand superpowers which will help you build a company and a team which reflects your vision and protects your legacy:
Brand Superpower #1: Vision, mission and values
A shared vision, mission and values are essential guiding lights for businesses in a phase of growth. What we’re talking about here are not just statements to be hung on a wall or tucked away in a business plan. Instead they form the DNA of your company, the foundational principles that guide every decision and interaction.
A clear and agreed mission statement is the ‘why’ of your business. It creates a unified sense of purpose and provides motivation for your team. It inspires and aligns every member of your organisation, driving them towards a shared goal. When employees understand and believe in the mission of the company, their interactions with customers become more meaningful and impactful, thus creating a positive brand experience.
The vision statement is your ‘north star’. It paints a vivid picture of what you aspire to achieve in the future. A compelling vision can inspire and energise your team, fostering a sense of belonging and commitment. It empowers employees to be proactive and take ownership, and helps them understand how their work contributes to the bigger picture. This understanding translates into a more cohesive and effective brand representation.
Lastly, your core values define the culture of your company. They form the ‘how’ of your business – guiding behaviour, shaping interactions, and setting expectations. When your team members deeply connect with these values, they naturally embody them in their roles. They become true brand ambassadors who not only deliver a consistent brand experience but also add depth and authenticity to it.
In essence, when your mission, vision, and values are clear, shared, and lived by every member of your team, they shape a brand culture that is palpable in every interaction. They turn your employees into brand ambassadors, each providing a positive, cohesive brand experience. They become the threads that weave together to form the fabric of your brand – robust, vibrant, and unique.
Brand Superpower #2: Positioning
Your brand positioning encapsulates your business’s unique offering and differentiate it from competitors. A well-defined positioning statement, grounded in the vision and values of the company, helps employees understand the essence of the brand, and makes it easy for them to answer the dreaded “what do you do” question.
Brand Superpower #3: Value proposition
Your value proposition is the promise your company makes to your customers – the unique value you offer that sets you apart from the competition. In a growing business, it’s crucial that every team member, from the front office to the back end, understands this proposition. They need to be able to articulate it and, more importantly, deliver on it.
Brand Superpower #4: Language
Having an agreed brand language brings clarity and consistency to the way that your teams talk about your business. As businesses grow, this language needs to be shared, understood, and used by all members of the organisation.
Brand Superpower #5: Marketing strategy
Your marketing strategy is not just about promoting your products or services, but about telling your brand story consistently and compellingly across all touchpoints. Your employees play a vital role here. Armed with an understanding of your vision, values, and goals, they can be effective conduits of your brand message, turning every customer interaction into a brand-building opportunity.
However, this doesn’t happen overnight. It requires deliberate effort, consistent reinforcement, and a culture that promotes learning and openness. It involves training your employees, not just in their specific roles but also in understanding and embodying your brand’s vision and values. It means empowering them to be not just workers, but true brand ambassadors.
Your role as the leader
Growing businesses are an exciting place to work. But they can also be fast-changing and confusing.
As the leader, your role is to create an environment where your people feel safe to express and embody the brand you have created. When employees are given the tools they need to understand, express and share the brand, they are more likely to engage wholeheartedly with the brand, take ownership, and act in ways that uphold your company’s values and reinforce its brand promise.
Navigate well, your business’s growth can provide a golden opportunity to transform your growing workforce into a community of brand ambassadors, each one contributing to the authenticity, resilience, and vibrancy of your brand.