Is Your Brand Strategy Just A Pig Wearing Lipstick?

‘If you put a dress and lipstick on a pig, doesn’t make it pretty. It’s still just a pig on the inside.’

Who would’ve ever thought these words of wisdom would ever make their way into a strategy post? (I promise, it’ll all make sense really soon) …

When you’re venturing through a rebranding, there are so many things that play into why a marketer decides to advise executive management to buy into a particular brand strategy.

We spend time over email, power points and phone calls trying to reinvent brand perception so our potential customers will see our business in a different, more favorable light. For if what we were doing before was working, we wouldn’t be going through the ultimate, forward-facing facelift.

However, it occurs to me while looking back on what worked and didn’t work in other rebranding strategies I’ve seen in the past, that if companies would spend time changing internal perception the customer-facing rebranding would be easier.

Think about the stacks and stacks of branded t-shirts you’ve wore throughout the years that have been given to you as team building exercises or at company functions. How often did you wear the shirts, have a great day with co-workers and then get back to the office a few days later and realize nothing had really changed? Sooner or later, the job still sucks and the t-shirt isn’t even a very good dust rag.

It is logical upper management wants focus on customer relations. After all, that’s where the money is. But if a company’s own employees can’t evangelize the business as a great place to work with fine products and offerings, then a huge marketing opportunity is being missed.

Your employees are your walking, talking billboards. They go to parties. They have lives. Lives in which they tell their friends, families and others they meet about what they do, what their company does and how their boss acts. They are responsible for brand perception on an immeasurable level as their reach is limitless.

All the brand exercises in the world can’t overcome damaging workplace culture horror stories as Sally in DC has no problem telling her friend Sarah in NC, who tells her friend Cassie in Kansas, who then tells Caroline in California. And much like the game ‘telephone,’ each story takes on ‘facts’ all its own.

While developing rebranding messages, it’s important to get buy-in from your employees. They know your business from the inside out and if they can’t take pride and ownership of the new messaging, then it won’t work. In short order, your company will be reshaping brand strategy again because a strategy the grunts can’t buy into will not work.

If your employees are inspired and energized by the brand and what it conveys and they truly believe in the products and services being offered, then the life of your realignment is limitless. And, you’ll see incremental lift simply because your people can hold their heads up high and evangelize for the company in an organic, easy way.

Now I’m not naive enough to think a workplace can be happy all the time. But I do know the difference between a miserable workplace culture (experienced recently …) and a culture that simply needs to be embrace change, communicate at a higher level and just spend a little time getting things in order. It is not a difficult task to create change from within – it just has to be done.

So while new logos are making their way in to be examined and taglines are being written to energize an already overly-marketed customer base, sit down for a second and think about what can be done to get the people sitting around you energized about the new brand.

Remember, an energized team works harder. A motivated team products excellent results and a happy team tells the people at the church picnic how much they love going to work. But a rebranded business that doesn’t change from within is nothing short of a pig wearing lipstick … and well, we all know the rest.

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