Know all the Players on Your Brand’s Team

Know all the Players on Your Brand’s Team

Another NFL season comes and goes, and the result seems the same.  Tom Brady wins another title and adds another MVP trophy to his case.

However, what made Sunday’s game so interesting was that we saw some of the same faces – Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown – but they were wearing a different jersey than we remember from the past.  Keeping track of who is on what team often isn’t easy in professional sports.

It isn’t easy in the marketing world, either.

Many of the brands we work with are challenged to define and manage the people on their “team” when it comes to delivering on their brand promise.  While it is easy to say a brand’s employees are the ones representing them, the reality is their brand team is a lot bigger.  It can be hard to inventory, let alone manage, all the external partners who are affiliated with your brand.  However, it is critical that brands maintain consistency across all their customer-facing representatives, or they run the risk of degrading their customer experience.

Brand Roll Call

Who are the people who serve your customers?  This question might not be as simple to answer as it seems.  That is because most brands have many different types of customers.

Let’s start with the easy ones: your employee teams.  Most brands have a mix of sales, customer service and support representatives.  They are all certainly on your brand team.  They serve your primary customers directly.

What about third-party support?  Do you outsource any of the functions listed above or do you have partners that supplement internal teams?  These teams often serve customers in the same capacity as employees, they might just do it at different times or in different geographies.  They are certainly on the team.

Does your brand use any re-sellers (i.e. VARs), brokers or channel partners?  Almost every brand has affiliate resale relationships.  These people represent your product and might even wear your logo on their shirt when they go in for a sales call.  They are part of the family.

For manufacturing brands, the brand team can be even bigger.  Distributors, retailers/dealers and even contractors represent their products regularly.

The team will look a little different for every brand, but it is critical to map out all the individuals speaking on behalf of your brand to a customer.

Building Accountability for your Team

Building the roster of your brand representatives in the easy part.  Building brand standards for them to follow and holding them accountable is the hard part.

In a recent session I hosted with the American Marketing Association’s Philadelphia chapter, one of the panelists, Trina Barta of Cadillac, offered a distinct perspective on this topic.  Trina is Cadillac’s head of customer experience and retail integration.  That means she is responsible for aligning behaviors that are consistent with the Cadillac brand across the automaker’s 800+ dealership partners.  That is a lot of non-employee brand coordination.  In the following video, Trina offers suggestions on how to build accountability and motivation when you don’t directly manage your brand representatives:

Cadillac & CX

Trina and her team work cooperatively with their dealers to identify and execute the right actions to serve their customers.  Cadillac does not hold their dealers accountable just for the sake of doing it.  It is so the customer experience will be consistent with the expectations of the Cadillac brand.  Tying both the actions and the rewards to a common goal leads to a stronger partnership and better performance.

The days of leaving your vendors and partners to their own devices are over.  A brand’s reputation is too important, and competition around customer experience is too fierce to not have tight coordination. The key is to collaborate with your outside partners and set clear expectations.  That is where brands will win. It doesn’t hurt if you have a few Bradys and Gronks on your team, either.

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