You have to build it before you promote it.

Your brand strategy should drive everything the company does. Often, there’s operational retooling to do in order to fulfill your brand promise. In other words, you have to build it before you promote it. 

The CEO of a national retailer client had been sitting on a hunch for over two years about a potential new market position for their store brand. We put some shape around the idea so we could test it with customers. Reaction was exceedingly positive. The problem was the company could not deliver on the potential promise or experience at the time. So, they set out to redesign the entire operation, not just the stores, so they could deliver. 

The transformation took two years, new merchandising, store design, employee training and supporting systems. Only when they were ready to deliver did marketing commence. The result was substantial growth in market share and profit. The company was ultimately acquired by an aggregator for a substantial premium over its peers.

Other times, you’re already doing the right thing but you may not know it. An under performing equipment dealership client sought our help to craft its value proposition. Having no preconceived notion of where it might lead, we conducted customer research to understand why top customers chose to do business there. The findings were interesting. 

We heard the same thing across their network in all verticals — customers valued the dealership’s unique service approach which was basically doing whatever it took to keep customers up and running. The reason this came as a surprise to leadership was there was no formal service strategy. Across the system front line employees were simply making local decisions to help their customers — from driving hours in the middle of the night to repair equipment on a remote jobsite to taking parts off a new vehicle for a customer when none were in stock — without asking permission.

We uncovered that unrestricted hyper-local decision making by customer-facing employees was consistent across the system and the driver of customer loyalty. Meanwhile our client’s largest competitor curtailed local decision-making through centralized strategy, meaning our client’s serendipitous approach was actually differentiated. Company leadership was largely unaware it was going on. In fact when we presented our findings, one executive thanked us and said they would put a stop to it for efficiency’s sake while we advocated for it becoming the foundation of their brand strategy.

Once you’ve defined your value proposition and your company is walking the walk, it’s time to tell the world.

If you’re thinking about transforming your brand contact us for an assessment.

Coupland & Company Ltd. is a boutique business-to-business brand consultancy specializing in commercial, industrial, and professional service firms. We assist leaders charged with business transformation, growth, and the integration of newly-acquired companies. Our clients are private-sector businesses that strengthen Canada’s economy and global competitiveness.

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