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Broken Promises

If employees don’t buy into the brand promise, consumers definitely won’t. And here are the figures to prove it.

July 14, 2012 11:45 by

Employee alignment

Many of the organizations attempt to differentiate their brands by the level of service. This is delivered by employees who should understand the brand’s ID and be empowered to verbalize it, and deliver it accurately.

So the critical question is: how well is the brand promise and ID under­stood throughout the company from the top down?

A few years ago, we conducted an exercise with the leadership team of a large, multi-site retailer. We asked each team member – including the CEO – to write down the company’s brand promise. Of the 12 members of the executive team, no two members agreed on the brand promise. This is not unusual. Most leader­ship teams have a hard time articulating the brand promise, especially outside of FMCG. Given this, how likely is it that the promise will be lived by anyone else in the company?

In an employee survey across a wide range of sales and service industries, four out of every 10 customer-facing employ­ees strongly agreed with the statement: “I know what my company stands for and what makes us different from our competitors.”

In hospitality and retail banking, the numbers were three out of every ten.

More disturbing is that one in every 14 employees with direct customer contact had absolutely no idea what the company stands for or what makes it different.

Most striking of all was the impact of employee alignment on the con­sumers they serve. Compared to their misaligned counterparts, consumers of highly-aligned employees were substan­tially more engaged. They also experienced significantly fewer problems. Furthermore, a highly engaged consumer delivers a 23 per cent premium compared to the av­erage consumer. Disengaged consumers spend 13 per cent less. Employee and brand alignment around the brand promise is essential in driving an optimal customer experience.


The implications are significant. Here are the general principles to which corpora­tion should adhere:

1. Clearly define the promise and inject the core elements of the ID into the marketplace and workplace constantly and consistently.

2. Develop the core elements of the ID and promise, so consumers and potential consumers clearly under­stand the key differentiator. Ensure that consumers connect the brand to these differentiators.

3. Continuously challenge the promise. Is is still strong enough to compete? Always ensure leadership is aligned on that promise.

4. Ensure the entire company is aligned with and empowered to deliver the core elements of the brand ID and promise.

5. Ensure that the core elements of your identity and promise are delivered consistently across time, locations, and channels.

6. Review current communications. Are you consistent across all touch points?

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