How Every Team Helps Build Brands (Not Just Marketing)
When a lot of us think about branding, our thoughts often go straight to the marketing team. But beyond our marketers – today, building and nurturing a brand needs to involve the entire company. Discover how different teams can pitch in to build a memorable brand.
As a marketer, it’s easy to assume that only your department wants to handle branding. But our State of Brand Ownership Report found that 69% of respondents want more ownership in the development and management of their brand. These responses came from brand, marketing, design, user experience, and front-end developer teams, which shows just how many people across the company want to get involved in developing your brand.
This eagerness is good news since strong branding requires company-wide engagement. Otherwise, it’s nearly impossible to achieve a consistent, authentic brand image because you’ll be building something based on someone else’s idea of what it should be rather than a shared vision. So while marketers play an important role in brand building, you should also involve other departments in the brand-building process to give everyone a sense of shared ownership in the company’s image.
Marketing Team: (Often) the Earliest Brand Owners in the Company
Marketing is often the team that takes the lead on brand-related projects, particularly when companies haven’t reached the size where they have a dedicated brand manager or branding team. Day to day, the marketing team is responsible for designing and sharing brand assets or managing the relationship with a design or branding agency. And 58% of respondents in our State of Brand Ownership Report said that marketing owns and contributes to parts of their company’s official brand guidelines – more than any other department.
Marketers are also the internal brand champion who get buy-in from other departments around branding efforts. Drift’s Chief Brand Officer Dave Gerhardt suggests “prioritizing internal marketing as much as marketing to customers. This means bringing people in and hosting in-house presentations to garner buy-in from leadership and make sure everyone is equipped to represent the brand.”
Your internal marketing efforts are essential for building a shared sense of brand ownership within the company. The more people buy into the brand, the easier it will be to maintain consistency across all your departments and customer touchpoints.
While marketing teams often lead the way with brand building, other departments within the company have significant roles to play in co-creating and maintaining the company’s image.
CEO: Defines Brand Strategy & Tells Your Brand Story
After marketing, the CEO is most involved with defining and building a company’s brand. Our State of Brand Ownership Report found that “C-level executives are generally the most involved in the development of the ongoing brand strategy.”
Rather than being in the weeds creating your brand guidelines and assets, the CEO should be the guiding light for the brand. What does your brand stand for? How does your company embody your brand’s values and purpose? The CEO can support your marketing team by answering these questions to define your brand values and bring them into the company strategy.
Additionally, CEOs can build the company brand by being the voice of the brand – by speaking at conferences, being a guest on podcasts, or simply being active on social media. Sprout Social found that 70% of consumers feel more connected to brands when the CEO has an active voice on social media because it shows a more human side of the company.
A big part of being the voice of the brand involves telling the company story. People love underdog stories: They want to hear about how your company started from nothing and is now a massive success.
Gerhardt believes that “a company’s story should drive every aspect of the brand, and the CEO should own that vision. The more you involve the CEO in the content your audience consumes, the more likely you are to reach your audience with your unique story.”
Read more about how CEOs build brands by becoming the voice of your company in the link below.
Product Designers: Bring Branding into Your Products
Your product is the part of your brand that customers use and pay for. And as product designers bring your product to life, they have an important part to play in building your brand.
For Sabika Nazim, head of product design at Amplitude, the big question for product designers is, “How do we make sure that we provide the most consistent, seamless experience across the board?”
Designers should make sure your product’s functionality matches up with the messaging your customers have heard all through the marketing and sales process. Your design team also needs to ensure that the product looks consistent with your brand by using the right fonts, colors, logos, and other assets.
Consistency becomes especially important when companies go through a rebrand. On average, companies rebrand every 7 to 10 years, and during that process, your product design team is responsible for bringing your new brand to life within the product. When Anchor by Spotify went through a rebrand in early 2021, product designer Rachel He faced a number of tasks.
“On my end, there was a lot of implementing color, type, all of these different visual brand assets but also trying to make Anchor feel a little bit more grown-up, a little bit more mature,” says He.
By not involving product designers in branding projects and giving them clear ownership over how to implement the look and feel of your brand in the product, you’ll provide customers with an inconsistent experience. You’ll end up with one style for marketing assets and something different inside the product.
We saw this disconnect reflected in the responses to our State of Brand Ownership Report. Sixty-seven percent of respondents across brand, marketing, design, user experience, and front-end developer teams admitted that their teams use their own specific set of creative guidelines that aren’t included in the official company guidelines.
Avoid this scenario by involving product designers in creating the brand as early as possible. You might ask them to create sections of your brand guidelines or branded assets for other team members to use.
Read more about how product designers help shape your brand in the link below.
Sales Team: Shares Your Brand Story & Values with Customers
Your sales reps are often the first representatives of your brand that a customer will meet. Help them deliver a strong first impression by involving them in the brand creation process and empowering them with assets.
The bad news? Most companies leave sales out of the loop when it comes to branding. Our Brand Ownership Report found that the sales team is typically one of the least involved in a brand’s development and management. And if they’re not involved in building your brand, it’s unlikely that they’ll be perfectly aligned with the rest of the business when it comes to communicating your key messages and values.
This lack of alignment damages customers’ trust in your business. If people get one message from your marketing and another from your sales team, they’re less likely to believe in any communication coming from your company. So sales teams need to be consistent with their messaging, the information they’re sharing, and the look and feel of their decks, emails, and demos.
Support sales by empowering them to create branded sales materials with customizable templates for pitch decks, information packs, demo videos, and more. Sales teams will be able to take the lead and create their own materials without needing sign-off from your designers every time, giving them more ownership and engaging them with building the brand.
But it’s not enough for sales assets to just look on-brand. They need to align on messaging and bring your brand to life for your customers, too. Your salespeople are the ones who share your brand story with potential customers and build rapport by embodying and communicating your brand values.
Customers are increasingly prioritizing brand values alongside functionality and price when choosing new products and services. Accenture found that 52% of consumers choose one brand over another because it “stands for something bigger than just the products and services it sells, which aligns with my personal values.” So it’s essential that your sales team is aligned with your brand values.
Read more about how sales teams build brands by telling your brand story in the link below.
Customer Support: Maintains Your Brand Reputation
Support reps interact with customers more frequently than any other department, so they play a big role in maintaining your brand reputation. They need to really understand your brand: its values, its messaging, and what it means to your customers. By offering quick service and helping customers achieve their goals with your products, support teams build trust in your brand and demonstrate positive values.
Good quality service can differentiate your company from competitors who view support more as a cost center than a value add. Luis Hernández, VP of customer success at Geckoboard, explains how improving customer support has given the company a competitive edge:
“We have heard many times from customers that ‘window shop’ similar apps during the trial that one of the main reasons they go for Geckoboard is our support.”
Unfortunately, support teams can sometimes be disconnected from your brand. A study by HBR found that messaging misalignment between marketing and support teams can cause employees to “misrepresent product details and brand positions to potential clients, and in the end, the company suffers.”
Help support teams by making sure they have all the information they need to communicate with customers accurately. Here at Frontify, we found that introducing a product marketing function made it easier to keep our support team up-to-date with the latest product or brand updates. Daniel Kästli, Frontify’s VP of customer success, shares how this change has helped his customer support team:
“The product marketing team looks at each of the products in development and comes up with all the information and trainings we (customer support) need after the introduction of this product or feature. This helps us to communicate in consistent ways because everyone internally has the same materials.”
Improving the information flow between the marketing and customer-facing departments will help all teams achieve alignment on important messaging, providing a consistent experience for your customers.
Read more about how customer support helps build brands in the link below.
Customers: Shape Brands from Outside the Company
It’s not just the employees within a company who help build a brand. Customers – both your loyal and not-so-loyal shoppers – shape your company image, too, by creating and sharing user-generated content (UGC).
Consumers are constantly publishing videos, photos, and reviews about companies and products that sway other shoppers. Ninety percent of consumers trust this user-generated content, and more than half of consumers would rather see content from customers rather than company-generated branded content on certain platforms.
This might seem scary if you think about what your upset customers might share. But for people who genuinely love your product and believe in your brand? Their UGC can help you increase sales, improve your marketing, and strengthen the reputation of your brand.
Leverage this authentic, trustworthy content to boost your company’s reputation by:
- Asking customers for reviews of your product or service
- Asking customers to tag your social media accounts in their posts and photos and/or use a branded hashtag
- Launching a brand ambassador program to partner with your customers to create content on a consistent basis
Grow your brand outside of the business by encouraging customers to create and share positive feedback with other online shoppers.
Read more about how your customers help shape your brand in the link below.
Everyone Is Part of Building Your Brand
Customers are more likely to see your brand as authentic and trustworthy if its messaging and image are consistent across touchpoints – from Twitter and email campaigns to support responses.
To achieve this consistency, you need to give everyone a shared sense of ownership of your brand and make it easy for team members to get involved with brand building. A shared brand management platform is the perfect tool for keeping every employee aligned. A shared platform makes it easy for team members across the business to collaborate when creating branded materials and assets and sharing them across departments.
And while you want some control over branding, remember that it’s important for customers to contribute to your company’s image, too – even if that means not knowing what content they’ll tag your company in. Take a leap of faith and let customers share their feedback online, so other shoppers can see that your brand is authentic and transparent.
To build a strong, recognizable brand, you need to understand how everyone inside your company – and outside of it, too – contributes to your brand. Marketing, leadership, product design, sales, support – these are just some of the teams that need to be involved in developing and maintaining your brand.
Interested in how we support different teams in building our own brand? You can read about it here.