Brand and marketing management is often focused on external image analysis to mirror image to identity gaps to define improvement processes. In most cases, these process definitions happen in a certain degree of isolation from the rest of the organisation and lead to an inevitable image incongruence across multiple brand touch-points, particularly if measured along the entire brand value chain.
Two of the easiest image to identity gaps to uncover are highly public yet often badly integrated organizational functions such as marketing or customer support. In a recent field test of roughly 170 organizations across multiple sectors in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the UK, Ireland and the US, all of mid to large size market cap, I was able to identify tremendous image gaps in either of the two mentioned functions. Particularly HR stood out negatively by completely diverting from organizational branding aspects through evidenced actions, behavior and conduct. In some follow up interview, however of non-statistical relevance to the study, interviewed brands revealed a 180 degree diversion from the overall brand promise and even suggested contrary behavioral elements to be of higher importance than explicitly stated values or brand elements in publicly available material (e.g. websites, social media). Whilst I haven’t finished accumulating and analyzing results, preliminary results do not suggest a high integration of brand values throughout organizations, similarly to the often in isolation formulated organizational value statement. For marketers and general managers, it is thus of importance to reflect upon organizational and brand core values to define stringent and coherent organizational processes adhering to set core value statements. At this point it is even argued that a general core brand value audit, as conducted by numerous consultancies, is not going to discover these evidential discrepancies due to their complex and cross-functional differentiation.
> brand image and brand identity differs in 9 out of 10 organizations when it comes to assess explicit HR behavior (e.g. reaction on hiring requests, phone support, interview scheduling, reply time etc)
> brand image and brand identity differs in 6 out of 10 organizations when it comes to customer support; in highly competitive and or retail oriented organizations, these numbers even increase!
> employees, particularly in HR, do not seem to understand brand value concepts and what the brand for whom they try to source staff stands for. With that cultural aspects need to be assessed, too.