As organisations address constantly changing marketplaces, the face of Marketing has adapted by giving rise to three imperatives. Previous blog posts by Graham Kittle and Simon Crisp have discussed two of these, ‘Understanding customers as individuals’ and ‘Creating a system of engagement that maximises value creation at every touch’.
Aligning organisational culture and brand is key to ensuring that product and service offerings are presented to customers in a consistent manner. Gaps in these offerings are not only known by customers who experienced them, but also by those with whom they are connected through the power of social networking. As such, Marketing’s role is to close the gaps by systemically ensuring that the organisation’s culture and brand are authentically one in every interaction or every touch point with the customer. In this context, the role of transparency must be addressed. Organisations must recognise that transparency is reflected by both parties in the interaction; the organisation can access or use data to understand each customer as an individual, and the customer may have access to information to understand everything about the company.
The capabilities that must be built to ensure that an organisation’s culture and brand are authentically one include:
- Engaging with and actively listening to current or potential customers on social media to develop an understanding of people’s opinions. A high level of engagement will allow the organisation to accurately gauge their reputation with the public.
- Integrate tools, touch points and social business platforms to enable employees to embody the organisation’s culture and brand through each interaction with the customer.
- Ensure procedural measures and systems are in place to manage/mitigate the reputational risks of being online.
- Define the brand and its existence, through understanding its purpose, mission or values. A unique corporate character that is thoroughly understood by its employees will be reflected in how these employees and the organisation interact with the world.
Abraham Lincoln stated that “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” This is the central notion by which IBM has worked to close the gap between brand promise and reality. At IBM, the focus remains on developing and nurturing all of our constituents to improve our corporate reality, thus aligning the shadow.