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Customers take your brand messaging seriously. Do you?

A conversation with a friend had us both nodding: How can so many people running so many companies not know their brand promises? Sure, they know the logo and the latest catchy slogan. But when it comes to the history, mission, vision and core values of their organization, the navel-gazing begins in earnest. In some organizations, the  problem gets worse as you go down the line, where salespeople often formulate their “own” brands in the absence of one defined and defended by strong leaders.

Thus, the platitudes take over.

[tweetthis]Leaders ensure there’s no break between their promises and their people’s core beliefs. #leadership[/tweetthis]

That’s because even when a brand’s values are fuzzy to the people inside an organization, they are usually quite clear to customers outside. Marketing departments make sure of that, deploying emotional messaging that saturates their senses online and off. To the public, a brand’s values are in plain view, because marketing works.

Yet behind the scenes, there remains a disconnect.

Consider the scenarios: A hotel promotes relaxing rooms but is the check-in experience smooth or stressful? The exit row of an airplane is dedicated to safety, but the gate agent lets a clearly unqualified passenger to sit in the row. A service professional promises “service and satisfaction” but hasn’t returned your call for two days. This gap – between marketing promise and people delivery – is real. And damaging.

Brand promises matter to consumers.

We’ve all heard how much research consumers do before purchasing a product or service: they check your web page, read reviews, watch videos and ask friends on social media for input. It’s not hard for them to discover if someone promises one thing, but doesn’t deliver.

It’s not just about technology, either. It’s about people’s beliefs.

We’d like to think most service failures are because the “system” is broken. Yet many problems aren’t due to a broken procedure or tool. Often they arise from a disconnect between the consumer’s expectations and the beliefs of the people running the company. Believe it or not.

Can you name your company’s mission and values? Can your colleagues likewise recite them and articulate how they guide daily job performance? It’s not enough to put important values on posters and websites. It’s critical to start every client meeting, training workshop and company event with a reminder of how the vision and values drive the performance of everybody in every department.

Successful organizations aren’t just collections of systems and tools.

Because a writer is more than her pen. The best results occur when meaningful values become the driving force behind daily work.

Unfortunately, too many business leaders roll their eyes when the discussion turns to core values, mission statements and company vision. That’s the fuzzy stuff. They prefer the spreadsheets and shiny technologies that promise to work miracles. What they don’t realize is that business plans don’t fail simply because the tactics were wrong. They falter because the people implementing them didn’t believe doing them mattered. 

As Peter Drucker used to say, it seems obvious that “steel companies make steel, railroads run trains,” when in fact businesses are no more defined by their products and services than they are by their article of incorporation.

Why you work is just as important as how you work, or what you make.

Your customers believe it.

Do you?