Archivo de la categoría: English

Posts in English about Internal Branding

A return of $300.000 with an investment of $75

And in less than six months! It seems the returns of suspicious business, but far from it. This is the returns of an investment that a Ritz-Carlton employee did on solving a situation of one of the hotel´s guests. This person detected that something was not right, did an honest effort and went out of his way to make possible that the guest could watch an important sporting event on television. Few months later, this satisfied guest held a large event on this hotel worth $300.000 in direct sales. This is one of the 8.000 WOW stories that Diana Oreck can proudly explain.. Oreck is the vice-president of the Leadership Center of the Ritz-Carlton where ladies and gentlemen are trained to serve ladies and gentlemen.

Ritz

I have had the opportunity to speak with Oreck to learn the key success factors of this program and she has answered assertively: “If this employee could have just being doing his job, this WOW story would have not happened. He was doing his job well because he was focused, aware of client wellbeing and, when he noticed that something was not completely right, he took upon himself to alleviate – if not solve – the client´s discomfort. He took action, invested $75 in making guest satisfaction possible”. Do your numbers, she recommended me.

This behavior only happens in two circumstances. The first type of behavior happens when an employee takes upon his/herself, motivated by his/her own professionalism, to act beyond his/her duty. We have all have been lucky enough to find an efficient employee! When an employee steps out of his way to improve the quality of his work, probably has intuitively understood that the quality of the relationship between the client and the brand depends, to a large extend, on the quality of his/her relationship with brand. In the situation described above, the client was satisfied with the person that responded above the expectations but, maybe, not with the organization the client is attending to. In other words, how could the organization benefit from client satisfaction if not planned?

The other instance when this proactive employee behavior happens is when it is the result of a well-planned and brilliantly executed internal branding program. When the organization trains employees on how to deliver brand benefits, when they take ownership of their job description, when they are encouraged to engage with clients, the organization is improving the quality of the experience of the client with the brand. Oreck sums up Ritz-Carlton approach to client/brand relations through managing adequately employee/brand relations. For her, to invest in employees so they can become the best professional engaged partners with the organization generates a better business environment and hence strengthening the organization´s intangible assets. It is not only about short term results; it’s about long term returns. It´s not theory; nor it´s a highly complicated idea either but it is far from being a reality in most organizations. In fact, it´s so obvious that it hurts! Oreck is also surprised that organizations do not take into account, normally, the added value that employees represent in delivering the brand promise because of its positive impact on the P&L and the balance sheet of the organization.

Yet, one of the biggest obstacles to adopt internal branding programs is the apparent difficulty of quantifying the returns on the investment. I have chosen the word apparent because there are methodologies, processes and tools to measure the return on the investment on internal branding programs as Oreck explains. They have developed and implemented successfully ways to measure, control and evaluate the investments made to add value and to improve client/brand relations that support the efficiency of the philosophy and strategy oriented to manage how the employee delivers the brand promise. They believe – and the results show it – than employees are a critical and an inherent part of the brand promise and, through them, the value of the promise is qualified if not enhanced. Efficient management of the organization’s intangible assets strengthens its competitiveness because generates more satisfied people, internally and externally.

All organizations, regardless of type, size and or market reference have intangible asset to manage and they should because they are elements and vectors of differentiation that have a significant impact on the organization´s profits and value.

The question then is: what inhibits organizations in managing employee relationship with the brand as a source of sustainability of the organization’s competitive advantage as well as a profit motivator? We all know that it is not a matter of having or not a large budget!

My PhD research paper

Carlos de la Guardia Last December I presented and defended my PhD research paper. The topic was described as highly innovative and in fact one of the most relevant comments made by the tribunal was that “on very few occasions the Academy goes ahead in business. This is one of those cases”. This research work has its origins in my own professional experience because, being a planner, I have witnessed how applying the methodologies, processes and tools of strategic planning to brand communications improves notably its effectiveness. Then, if it works, why not apply that knowledge to improve employee communication and hence contributing to improve employee engagement with the brand? This initial question prompted a full fledged research project that ended up becoming my PhD paper.
In the actual state of markets, brands have become intangible assets because they build sustainable relationships with their clients and other stakeholders. The better the Client/Brand relationship becomes the more profitable and beneficial for both parties. Employee/Brand relationship is an important and relevant variable in the quality of the Client/Brand relationship. Furthermore, communication plays a very important role in the development and management of relationships. It could be stated that the quality of the communication describes the quality of the relationship. Or, better communication, better relationship. Hence, brands invest many resources in improving the efficiency of external communication, but how do brands communicate to internal stakeholders, specifically to employees? This is the question answered by this research paper.
To answer the question, the paper begins with a thorough research of secondary academic sources to conceptualize and to contextualize internal branding and strategic planning. Then, along with the conclusions and learning, the filed work was implemented through focused interviews to relevant practitioners and academics. With the conclusions of these two phases, a working methodology and a conceptual model, adapted from validated strategic planning tools, is proposed as a first step in the full adoption of strategic planning to employee communication.

Dr. Carlos de la Guardia, PhD

Carlos de la Guardia TesisDr. Carlos de la Guardia is an academic as well as a practitioner in Brand communications.
From the academic perspective, he obtained his PhD at the Faculty of Communications Sciences at the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, Spain. His research PhD paper was on applying strategic planning of brand communications to employees’ communications. Before that, he was awarded his Diploma in Advanced Management Program at IESE, Spain. He was awarded his Master Degree in Marketing at IE, Spain. He studied and got his diploma in Advanced Political Studies from the College d´Europe in Belgium and his BA in Philosophy and History at Trent University in Canada.
On the practitioner’s side, he is a strategy planner of Brand communications and he has worked for the largest advertising networks. His last post was as a Global Director of Strat Planning for Danone Waters WW through YBR. He has also worked for Seat, Danone, Diageo, Virgin, Gallina Blanca, in most cases as an implant.
From early in his career he has had management responsibilities, he has been part of very large and successful campaigns and has directed important brand projects. Also, he is a consulter on brand communications and his specialty is Internal Branding, a field in which he has designed and led several projects for Universidad Internacional de Cataluña, the Diputación de Barcelona and for Danone Worldwide, among others.
He has pursued a long teaching career as well. He is a professor at Esic at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and he has held professorships at universities and business schools such as UAB, UIC, UPC, ESADE, EUNCET.