Thinking about how to handle core business functions like payroll and benefits administration requires a comprehensive look at how you’re currently executing those functions, the costs/benefits, and whether you’re meeting the needs of everyone from your employees to customers. It’s the type of holistic analysis that puts you in touch with how you’re really operating (as opposed to how you think you’re operating) to determine the best course of action for the future.
Business owners and executives know that’s an important step, but too many ignore the same analysis of their overall brand. Some think their brand is as clear to everyone else as it is to them; others just don’t think it’s a priority.
The last article detailed how you can use the PEO evaluation process to jumpstart your company into a serious look at the position you occupy in the marketplace and how customers engage with your presence. Now it’s time to look at some of the specific areas you’ll need to consider to reinvigorate your brand and ensure that it’s working as hard as you are.
There’s one recurring theme in staffing, sales, and just about every other facet of business: it’s about people. Branding isn’t any different, so it’s time to consider how your company interacts with and is perceived by a range of personalities. Think about how each of these five constituencies feel about your company and consider their attitudes about the value you create for them:
Leadership. How do executives/management represent the company? What’s their relationship to your team and to your customers?
Employees. Are your employees loyal to and proud of your brand? Does their performance reflect happiness with their jobs, and do clients notice?
Customers. Do current customers value their relationship with your company? Do potential customers view you as unique? Trustworthy? A valued partner?
Competitors. Are you seen as the leader in your niche, or are you perceived as an also-ran?
Media and the Community. Do you maintain a strong presence in the world around you? Is your company respected? Do non-customers have an opinion about you, good or bad?
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and additional categories depend on your product or service. Some firms have a brand that interacts with regulatory bodies, politicians, or influential professional associations. Some play on a global stage while others operate within a tight-knit community. Process those three pillars of branding from the previous article -- navigation, reassurance, and engagement -- through each of these categories to get a sense of your company’s role in a range of relevant minds.
Evaluate Your Touch Points
You’ve thought about the who. Now it’s time to think about the what and how.
Marketers and advertising often mention ‘touchpoints’ in the branding sphere -- those elements of your brand that the world around you, including your customers, actually sees. A broad collection of touch points reflect how your brand presents itself to your stakeholders. These include:
Your logo, tagline, and visual assets. What do people think when they see visual representations of your company? Do you have a logo that fits your company? Do you communicate your values in a simple tagline?
Your communications. From your website to newsletters, mailings, and media, how are you demonstrating what you do? Are you providing value, or are you just shuffling content toward people swimming in thousands of messages a day?
Your people. It’s people again -- but this time, what are your interactions with people actually like? Do your customers see you as a trusted authority? Are your employees’ families happy? Does the community value your presence, or are you just another office?
Again, it’s not an exhaustive list, and every business is a bit different. You’ll need to put serious effort into putting your fingers on the pulse of how your brand is playing out in the marketplace, your sector, and your community -- and it’s an ongoing process.
But it starts with a basic commitment to understanding who you are and how you’re perceived. You’ve taken the initiative to think more deeply about core aspects of your business from payroll to benefits. Doesn’t it make sense to invest your time and resources into mapping out your company’s future with the people who matter most?