Myth #3: Marketing Is The Only Team Responsible For The Brand

By Matt Oatley

In Four Myths That Will Ruin Your Brand

This is the third part of a four-part series: “Four Myths That Will Ruin Your Brand
Read parts one and two here: Myth #1: Anyone Can Market, Myth #2: Everyone Should Love Your Brand As Much As You Do

Myth #3: Marketing Is The Only Team Responsible For The Brand

Silos Need Not Apply

Modern businesses tend to operate in silos. Accounting does accounting. Salespeople conduct sales. Operations run the business. In this post, we will show you that silos don’t apply when it comes to marketing your agency. Ultimately, everyone connected with your agency markets your brand.

More Than a Good First Impression

Imagine taking your daughter on a college visit–her first choice. Impeccable academics. Rich, vibrant community life. Affordable tuition. High job placement rate for graduates. On-campus Chick-fil-A (pretty sure I can find a way to plug Chick-fil-A in every post).

As you tour the campus, you enjoy an impromptu chat with the university president, whose charisma and enthusiasm make you think, “Must be a top school if this is their leader!”

Your child is sold; she doesn’t even want to look at other schools. You’re sold, too. Euphoric, you leave the admissions office.

On your way to the car, you see the university president out and about once again. This time, however, the president is berating one of the groundskeepers about weeds in the sidewalk cracks. The worker stands helpless as the president shouts, “Incompetent!” “Lazy!”

Now let me ask you: has your impression of the college changed?

Back home, you’ll reassure yourself with the fabulous amenities, the track record of producing excellent graduates, and the renowned faculty.

But you’ll also think about the university’s top leader laying into a rank-and-file employee about some inconsequential weeds.

That affects the brand. It just does.

Everybody Markets

Here’s the irony: the president may not actually know anything about brand management. So is he or she responsible for the brand?

You bet. Everyone at the institution is responsible for the brand. The president might not attend a single marketing strategy meeting, but excoriating an employee in front of a visiting family hurts the brand nonetheless.

Not having everyone on board or on the same page causes confusion, hurts conversion rates and robs the brand of a true identity.

What does this mean for your agency?

Odds are you don’t have a marketing department, or at least someone whose full-time job deals exclusively with marketing. But even if you do, marketing is everyone’s job.

The marketing team serves as the quarterback for the brand.

But just as in the game of football a quarterback is one player among several and he cannot win the game on his own, the marketing team calls the plays and throws the passes…and they have to throw to someone.

Everybody on board is responsible for executing the marketing of the brand and the strategies involved.

How Invested Is Your Team?

In Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, the authors highlight Nordstrom employees as fanatics of the brand.

Because Nordstrom makes customer service its calling card, Nordstrom employees (called “Nordies”) go to unthinkable lengths for their customers. Collins and Porras cite Nordies who make personal deliveries, start customers’ vehicles, and even gift-wrap items customers purchased at other stores!

When you have employees who sacrifice their own sales so they can make a customer happy, you know they are more than team players–they take personal responsibility for the brand.

Unfortunately, brands often fracture because instead of following the marketing team’s playcalling, individuals devise their own plays.

Take the rogue salesperson, for example. He is prone to say something like, “You know, between you and me, my bosses want me to sell you on these points, but since I know you, I’m going to go off-script.”

Why would he do that? Because he thinks his way is convincing. But he’s sacrificing the brand for a sale. Do that enough times and you won’t have a brand. You’ll have a confusing mess of idiosyncratic approaches.

If the rogue salesperson were to say, “When I used the verbiage you gave me, I got an irritated response,” then the person in charge of marketing could add that remark to the data set. If it keeps happening, they will have evidence that they got it wrong. Then they can fix it.

That’s being responsible for the brand, and in a winning company, everybody is responsible for the brand.

Other examples:

  • The owner who cancels a meeting with a client for “family reasons,” but then pops up on the golf course an hour later.
  • The team member who ignores a client who has just entered and instead continues chatting with her friend.
  • The employee who posts offensive material on his personal Facebook page.

These hurt the brand!

Putting It into Action

So how do you create a culture without gaps that reflect poorly on your agency?

  • Make sure everybody in the agency knows that they’re responsible for the brand.
  • Let the marketing team serve as the quarterback for the brand.
  • Encourage everyone to give real-time feedback instead of doing their own thing.
The Fourth Myth: Myth #4: You Can Do It All