Brand Delivery: A View from the Trenches
Last week, in his article titled "Three Keys to Branding Success", Walt Laskos highlighted the importance of how impressions and feelings produced by the member experience can either positively or negatively influence member response.
Working as a credit union consultant, I gain a unique view of brand delivery from the trenches. Over the years, I've witnessed successful and not-so-successful brand delivery.
Brand strategies die when behaviors fail to match the vision of the brand. The negative impact from poor behavior or inefficient delivery systems is significant.
Consider the thousands of daily human interactions staff have with members (and each other). Plus the hundreds of impersonal delivery processes that will either make or break the brand vision.
Investment in a brand begins with identifying a long-term strategic vision and a tactical mission plan. However, the investment should not end there.
To ensure long-term success, a significant investment should also be made in developing the people and processes responsible for deployment of the plan. Unfortunately, some of the most brilliant brand strategies fail, not because of a poorly designed marking plan – they die due to poor oversight and execution.
Realizing the full-potential of your brand requires more than a plan. It requires constant monitoring, measurement and adjustment.
Given the state of our current economic reality and dreary long-term forecast, doesn't measuring and managing the daily execution of the brand deserve a higher priority?
To help identify potential road blocks, I've included a few examples from the trenches:
1. Policy Road Block
The credit union in this example has a "relationship" brand. Performance results for loan referrals were declining. Conversations revealed that branch MSRs were reluctant to discuss potential loan opportunities with members, because they were afraid the loan (they recommended to the member) would be denied. The MSR did not want "their" member's loan denied. The intended brand message was that relationships were very important to the credit union. From the MSRs’ perspective, the credit union had no interest in loan relationships for credit challenged members. Consequently, MSRs made fewer referrals resulting in poor loan growth.
2. Process Road Block
The credit union in this example has a "friendly, convenient service" brand. An internal process review identified two service (brand) gaps:
- The loan review, approval and disbursement process was lengthy and complicated, with 37 required steps from start to finish. Loan delivery did not match the brand promise of friendly and convenient service.
- The loan review also revealed a long (and dated) list of loan pre-approvals waiting to be funded. Incredibly, funding for many of the loans had been delayed until the member provide pay stubs, phone numbers for references ... that sort of thing. The attitude was "we told the member we needed this information, and the loan won't be funded until they provide it" – leaving the fate of a future loan completely in the member's hands.
3. Quiet Resistance Road Block
The credit union in this example has a "family" brand. Staff observations and conversations revealed little or no staff buy-in to the brand. The red flag revealing the problem: An overheard conversation between a tenured employee and a recently hired new employee. The conversation went something like this, "Now that you have completed training, let me tell you how we really do things around here". The primary focus in that shop is the status quo, not the changes required to live up to the brand. Quiet resistance can kill even the best of strategies.
If your brand is falling short of expectations, consider having an outside resource evaluate the delivery of your brand to ensure your people, systems and processes are living up to your brand promise. Then, make it a practice to regularly inspect and observe them in action. Regular inspections by management create team and personal accountability for the desired results.
If you want to get things done: Expect then Inspect.
Scott Butterfield, CUDE, CUCE, CCUE is principal of Your CU Partner in Sumner, Wash.