“One brand, one voice”. It’s a maxim that you hear often, and quite rightly so we believe. But what does it mean? Why is having a united and consistent brand so important for an organisation, even internally?
Along with sharing a vision and values, sharing a consistent brand identity (both visually and verbally) can be a powerful tool in aligning and engaging teams to work together under one banner.
But we see that when businesses are growing – through international expansion, through acquisition, or through diversification into new markets or services – managing brand usage can become even more complex. Variations in brand usage can start to creep in (or be left behind as a legacy), and consistency takes a back seat.
This fragmented presentation can have a negative commercial impact in terms of customer perception though (and indeed in attracting talent), especially when firms are trying to compete against established multi-national brands.
It can also, crucially, mean that employees do not feel as though they are part of the same company, and are therefore not acting effectively as a true team.
Compounding this, even slight differences in brand identities makes it much harder to share assets and collateral, so there is considerable duplication of effort and little collaboration on creating materials (not to mention cost inefficiencies).
One of the reasons most often cited for M&A activity failing to deliver projected value is bridging the cultural differences between merging firms. Brand values and culture play a hugely interconnected role; so whilst the process of alignment inevitably takes time and effort, ensuring one single brand that provides teams with a shared vision can be a significant determinant of success.
Investing in brand consistency and engaging employees with that process can have a huge impact on their perceptions of the business they work within, and how connected they feel towards colleagues in the rest of the organisation. Brand leadership expert, Denise Lee Yohn, comments that “great brands intentionally and specifically engage their employees with their brands”, going on to add that includes “giving [employees] the information, instruction, and tools they need to make on-brand decisions and to nurture, interpret, and reinforce your brand in everything they do”.
Leading accountancy and advisory network Baker Tilly are a good example of a business who have grown significantly through joining together firms from all over the world. In 2018, it became apparent to the leadership team that in order to compete with the “Big 4”, they needed to truly unite the network under one name, with one visual identity. Crucial to the success of this would be to engage their 30,000 employees worldwide in engaging with – and very swiftly adopting – the new brand.
By establishing a brand management platform to facilitate that, the team are reporting not just excellence in brand presentation and consistency, but are seeing a whole raft of benefits from actively bringing the team together. According to Jo Luck, Brand Manager at Baker Tilly International, “the global teams have been empowered… we are seeing greater engagement, and greater collaboration”.
The role that brand – and effective brand management – has played in unifying the teams at Baker Tilly worldwide has been significant. In the words of Ben Lloyd, Baker Tilly International’s Chief Operating Officer, “a consistent brand position makes it easier for people to appreciate who we are, what we do, and how we operate across markets”.
And that, to us, is a fantastic example of what “one brand, one voice” should really mean.