Brand alignment

I started talking about the term brand alignment back before anyone even thought about brand as much more than a logo. We registered it as a URL and today if you search that term my blog site is the number one Google ranked search result for the term. Not bad seeing as I have never spent one dollar on Google ad words or any other SEO mechanisms!

But that’s not the topic of this blog.

I get a Google alert every day on the term brand alignment. I’m interested in how it is being used and who is using it, and by and large it falls into two categories.

1. Talking about making sure all the communications of your organisation are saying the same thing, and
2. Talking about the alignment of what the brand is saying with internal culture (aka employees).

There are exceptions that go a bit further, but overwhelmingly it is still used as a term to front the idea of marketing communications alignment.

This does the term and idea it embodies a huge disservice.

Put simply, brand alignment is making sure that everything you are doing, thinking and saying as an organisation lines up, resulting in a strong, consistent and sustainable brand. It is a company-wide, horizontal, organising principle. Don’t devalue it and just use it for your communications.

When fully embraced, the idea of brand alignment can be transformational.

I talked about Zappos last week and their incredible customer service mission. It is only incredible because they have 100% committed to it as an ideal. Every area of that organisation looks at what it is doing and how it will make customer service better. It is found in the way it compensates its people, structures its policies and procedures, sets up its website and on and on. The result is that customer service IS their brand.

And they are not alone. Look behind any strong and successful brand and you will find a fairly ruthless level of alignment happening. It is deliberate. It is rigorous and it goes far, far beyond making sure messaging and communications are in sync across different media.

Real brand alignment isn’t an event, or a program. It is an ongoing deeply integrated process, where your thinking is shown in the things you do on every level, that in turn support and deliver on what you say everywhere.

Just imagine what practising real brand alignment could achieve for your company.

See you next week.

Michel Hogan is a Brand Advocate. Through her work with Brandology here in Australia and in the United States, she helps organisations recognise who they are and align that with what they do and say, to build more authentic and sustainable brands. She also publishes the Brand thought leadership blog – Brand Alignment.

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