Like a strong brand ballerinas dance in step

Just like the Marine Corps or a corps de ballet, people in an elite, high performance bank are in step. They have solidarity of purpose and movement. And working together, their brand is nearly impossible to defeat.

That healthy financial brand starts with aligning purpose, processes and the people inside of your institution.

A healthy corps = a healthy brand

It’s much more than a logo and goes far deeper than the latest advertising campaign.

Aligning your internal brand with your external brand is important work. Do it right, and you’ll have authentic, memorable brand touchpoints that deepen your customer and employee relationships.

Here are three ways to get started

1) Know your purpose
This isn’t a boring, lengthy and forgettable mission statement. This is about why you are here. If you haven’t figured that out yet, it merits some deep thinking and analysis.

Look to the Marines for inspiration.

“Marines are trained to improvise, adapt and overcome any obstacle in whatever situation they are needed. They have the willingness to engage and the determination to defeat the enemy until victory is seized.” — U.S. Marine Corps

The banks that have their purpose figured out and articulated are leaps ahead of their competition because they truly are different. Some of our favorites are:

  • Financial health for all
  • Growing the local economy
  • Building the entrepreneurship that’s the backbone of America

Fast, local loan decisions and great customer service are not your brand or your why. Those are simply byproducts of your offerings.

Once you really know your purpose, decision making about marketing strategies and tactics becomes much easier because you can readily discard ideas that don’t support your positioning.Banktastic Brand Alignment Chart (Click to enlarge)

2) Know your audiences
Employees, customers and prospects are your top audiences. Rank them. Record what you really know about them, and what you still need to learn.

  • What do they care about?
  • What’s their normal day like?
  • Where do you find them?
  • How does your institution answer their needs?
  • Are you there?

Remember that you are not for everyone. No bank has enough resources of time, talent or money to reach everyone. Pursue your best customers.

3) Know your marketing plan
It should address all these audiences in a seamless, integrated fashion. And it must support your purpose. Anything else is a distraction.

What the prestigious dance companies know:

A good corps de ballet must work as an excellent team. Its members tend to do the same choreography in unison, often while performing complicated patterns at the same time. An arm that’s out of place or a dancer whose timing is a bit off will stick out like a sore thumb.

Choreograph your bankers.

It helps to create a visual sketch of the strategies and tactics in place. When you write down what’s already happening, it becomes easier to see the areas that are out of balance. Often, the internal side needs more attention.

  • Once you’ve identified the holes, brainstorm with your team to develop ideas worth exploring further.
  • Find out where you need to do a better job communicating throughout the organization.
  • Develop ways to let employees grow personally and professionally while they build your brand.
  • Budget both time and money to adequately engage all audiences.
  • Be sure to include people from all departments and at different levels. Avoid the pitfalls and silos that develop if you leave out your back office teams. Every person in the bank plays a vital role in delivering on your brand promise—whether they face customers or not.

Get going.

Brand alignment is vitally important. Without it, you risk looking like a wannabe bank. When everything’s aligned, employees embrace it. Customers feel it. That’s the foundation of a deep and loyal relationship.

This article was first published in the American Bankers Association Journal.

For help creating brand alignment–and more loyalty and profit for your instituition—call Martha Bartlett Piland direct at 785.969.6203. You can also order her newest book, Beyond Sticky here.