When it comes to building brand getting the ‘who’ right matters

When it comes to building brand getting the ‘who’ right matters

There are lots of decisions you will make over the course of building your brand. Brand is, after all, the result of those decisions.

This week’s question gets to the heart of one of the most important decisions you will make – not just once but over and over.

I know the right people are really important to delivering consistently for our customers, but how do I know who will be the right people?

One of the most overlooked aspects of building brand are the people who keep the promises – your people. And in working with organisations to understand what is and isn’t working and why, people are often at the heart of those successes and failures.

Jim Collins famously stated, “First you’ve got to get the right people on the bus…”. If brand is built one action and decision at a time, it can be demolished the same way. Those actions and decisions aren’t made by magic pixies, they are the result of the values, motivation and engagement of the people who work with and in your organisation.

People answer customer questions, stand at the counter, decide on what products to stock or not, figure out the technology to use, send out and follow up on payments, tweet and post on Facebook, write the collateral, hire and fire other people, decide who to partner with, screw up and hopefully fix it…

I know it’s common these days for all these things to be attributed to “the brand” as if it is some great disembodied being, all-knowing and all-doing. But it isn’t and it doesn’t. People do it all and collectively the organisation does.

So if you don’t have the right people – that is people who care about what you care about – then the chances that they will be doing all those things in the way you want them to is pretty much slim to none.

Because no rule, guideline, policy or punishment can make me behave or act in a certain way if I’m not already wired to. And that’s where values and purpose come in, which is how you know who the right people are.

They share your values. They care about what you care about (aka your purpose).

Sure there will be skills and experience you’d also like them to have. There will be a role you have in mind for them. There will be other things they care about.

First, before all that, they have to share your values and care about what you care about. Skills they can learn. Experience they can get. Other things they care about are fine. But. You can’t tell someone what kind of person to be, what values to hold and what to care about. That comes embedded long before they get to you and good luck trying to change it.

We’ve all been in organisations or teams with someone who didn’t hold the same values as everyone else. After a short and usually uncomfortable time, they either run screaming for the exits or are ejected by the other chimps – neither of which is a good outcome.

So here’s my best advice on knowing the right who so you can build a brand that is the result of people showing what you care about everyday:

1. Know your values – the real ones, not the ones you think you have to have for show.

2. Get out from hiring as usual and figure out some hiring processes to tease out whether the person you’re talking to shares them (there are some great examples out there to get the ideas flowing).

3. Hire people who do.

4. Repeat.

Now certainly it’s not quite that simple but it’s not a bad place to start. Your team, your customers and your brand will thank you. And here is one time when being an SME is a definite bonus – this is one thing that does get harder the bigger you get.

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Don’t miss the opportunity to get your brand questions answered by posting them on twitter @michelhogan or emailing me at [email protected].

See you next week with (your question here).

Michel is an Independent Brand Analyst dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. She also publishes a blog at michelhogan.com.


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