The Whats, Whys, and Hows of Brand Orientation
Want to know one of the best kept secrets to long-term brand success? Learn about brand orientation and how it can propel your business forward.
In a landscape filled with thousands of competing businesses, building brands that last may seem impossible to achieve. Add to that the emerging trends and the changing demands and behavior of consumers, all of which make it hard for a brand to stay afloat—more so with limited resources.
This is why it’s crucial to get your footing right from the get-go. And the best way for you to kickstart your startup or small business is through brand orientation.
What Is Brand Orientation?
Brand and marketing orientation are often interchanged but are two very distinct approaches. While marketing orientation prioritizes a customer-centric approach, brand orientation is an approach that puts the brand at the center of how the business operates.
For it to work, it requires thoughtful integration of elements like your brand values, brand vision, brand image, brand personality, and brand culture in every business decision. In turn, you achieve consistent growth and sustainable success.
Let’s unpack the brand orientation meaning further.
Every business starts with a mission to provide specific solutions to consumer problems. To fulfill this mission, the wheels are in motion in the form of product development, sales, finance, human resources, and operations teams. Then to gain traction comes marketing and branding—an afterthought for many business leaders.
But branding is more than just a marketing ploy anchored on your visual identity to get your name out there. And the importance of brand orientation cannot be stressed enough in a heavily digital world where everyone is fighting for attention. Put in perspective, you may have the best people on your team, but without strategic brand management, you risk going in blind and alienating your brand in the process.
Why Is Brand Orientation Important?
Brand orientation serves as the backbone of your business as it grows. It is your gateway to strong branding, which is vital when imprinting your business in your consumers' minds and in cultivating a loyal customer base. It also becomes a key aspect of your overall corporate management.
Brand orientation fosters brand equity
Strong brands gain the trust of their consumers by remaining authentic to their corporate identity, brand identity, and mission. For instance, if your business champions sustainability, this should be reflected internally and externally.
A good example is Nike’s commitment to protecting the planet. Nike encouraged its workers to bring their reusable dishware instead of takeout containers to reduce waste in the office. At the same time, it has influenced its Nike customers to participate in its Recycle-Shoes campaign, where people can donate old shoes (of any brand) to the store. These donated shoes are then repurposed via Nike Grind to drive a circular economy.
With a consistent approach and commitment to authenticity, you are well on your way to gaining brand loyalty among your consumers. Gradually, your brand equity or the value of your brand increases.
Brand orientation makes you stand out
With new trends popping up left and right, it can be tempting to jump on the bandwagon. But that may veer you away from your intended goal. And this is a typical scenario when brands are too quick to ride on social issues for attention, for example.
Remember Starbucks’ Race Together, which was launched to spark conversation about the racial divide in the US? While the company meant well, the irony of its brand advertising campaign didn’t go unnoticed when the ads showed the hands of white baristas holding the cups with ‘Race together’ written on them. Twitter users were quick to call out how tone-deaf the company was. Yikes!
This is where brand orientation comes in handy when tailoring your brand management efforts. It keeps you on track by ensuring that you stay true to who you are, maintain sincerity in every communication effort, and align every brand action with what your audience is seeking. Done right, it effectively creates positive associations with your business.
So, what does brand orientation look like in action? Check out two of the best brand orientation examples you can learn from.
Inspiring Examples of Brand Oriented Companies
Dell Technologies Empowers Its People
If there’s one thing Dell is popular for, it's their wide array of purpose-driven quality technologies available at different price points and its unmatched reliable customer service through its direct-to-consumer model. With over 35 years under its belt, Dell’s winning approach of letting its purpose, branding strategy, and culture drive innovation has made it a household name.
Dell is steadfast in committing to its corporate brand orientation powered by its people strategy. It is anchored on diversity and inclusivity—a growing concept that champions talent from all walks of life in a bid to culminate differing perspectives, cultures, and ideas.
The company has spearheaded programs that empower women, people of color, LGBTQ+ members, veterans, and people with disabilities. Dell also has programs that create a safe and open environment where biases are eliminated by educating its workforce and consumers about social issues. Additionally, Dell is an active proponent of furthering the potential of its employees by funding STEM initiatives that they can join.
With a welcoming company culture guided by the brand’s vision, mission, and values, 85 percent of surveyed Dell employees expressed happiness in their roles. This creates a domino effect as it inspires them to advocate for the brand and even be proactive by participating in social media campaigns and brand advertising efforts.
In its recent Instagram takeover led by Dell employees, Linda gave a glimpse of how she balances her role as Dell’s Global Creative Lead and as a full-time mom. Because of an inclusive workplace that sympathizes with working moms, Linda can step in and out of the office as she tends to her family’s needs while managing her global team and delivering results.
This speaks volumes on how much Dell cares for the well-being of its workforce, which resonates with many of its consumers. And as they say, happy employees create happy customers.
Netflix Tops Online Streaming Services
Netflix has been around the block longer than most people think. Based in the US, it started as a subscription service in the late ‘90s, where members can rent a limitless amount of DVDs as long as they pay a monthly fee of $20—a unique proposition that rivaled the biggest rental services offering limited rentals in a certain period and high late fees.
Its business model then evolved, integrating changes based on what consumers are looking for while maintaining its mission of bringing the best and affordable entertainment experience. Taking it up a notch, Netflix grew its digital presence, with members rating and reviewing movies on its website, which increased engagement within the community.
As consumer behavior and demands changed, so did Netflix. Fast forward to 2022, Netflix is recognized as the most successful streaming service with a customer user base spanning over 180 countries around the world. Its popularity birthed the phrase: Netflix and chill.
So, what made this possible?
Like many brands that challenge the norm, the journey of Netflix to success was far from rosy. But no matter the hurdles, Netflix put its value of giving Netflix users the freedom to choose what they want to watch—even if that means including controversial content in its lineup—at the very heart of its business model, which aids in making strategic decisions.
In an interview, a Netflix spokesperson shares, “We believe strongly in giving our members around the world more choice and control over their Netflix viewing experience.” And it worked. Although recent figures fluctuated due to internal changes in Netflix, the streaming platform still boasts 200+ million subscribers worldwide.
How to Become A Brand Oriented Company
Now that you have an idea of where well-rounded brand building can lead you, let’s take a look at some of the simple yet impactful steps you can implement to become a brand oriented company.
1. Know your brand like the back of your hand.
The only way to achieve a brand oriented company is if you’re a brand oriented person, meaning you have an intimate knowledge of your brand. This is not only limited to knowing what you offer to people. It also encompasses being familiar with what makes your consumers tick, actively tracking your competitors and what differentiates them from you, and having a solid idea of how you want to be perceived.
While becoming brand oriented may seem complex, you can begin by mapping out your mission, brand values, and long-term milestones. This is a huge aspect of your branding practice that should be able to address the following questions:
- What are you offering that's different from your competitors?
- Why are you offering such products/services? What problems are you trying to solve?
- Who needs your brand?
- What keeps your customers from seeking other brands?
- How do you see your brand flourish in the next X period?
- What do you need to do to get there?
When you achieve a deeper understanding of why your brand exists, then you are well on your way to discovering how you can make a real and lasting connection with your consumers.
2. Develop a growth mindset at work.
There’s a saying: You don’t know what you don’t know.
Taken into context, your business’ full potential can never be fully realized or determined from the onset. While this may prompt an endless chase for success, it can be thought of positively as an opportunity to explore what more you can achieve. This is called a growth mindset.
Having a growth mindset means acknowledging the fact that a business is never fully developed. It takes a combination of tenacity and perseverance along with a strategic approach to keep looking for ways to improve your brand and bring the best outcomes to the table.
Developing a growth mindset is not a simple process, but with consistency, it can be achieved over time.
Begin by making learning and upskilling opportunities accessible to your team. This is a tried-and-tested approach to tapping your team's full potential by investing in their career development rather than onboarding new fully-skilled people every time you hit a roadblock.
Many companies sponsor staff training via bootcamps or Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), to name a few. If you have the resources, you can also set up your training and development department to handle these activities in-house.
It also helps to create a knowledge base, like through customer relationship management (CRM) software. In addition to streamlining customer data, you can also have a pipeline of the latest industry trends and technologies accessible to everyone.
Finally, managers and business leaders should be strong proponents of inclusivity and diversity in the workplace where different perspectives, ideas, and opinions are welcomed. Doing so encourages your team—including decision-makers— to be more collaborative, which can contribute to increased productivity and makes way for strategic decisions.
Studies show that companies with diverse and inclusive workplaces enjoy 19% higher innovation revenues. A proof that D&I initiatives work and should be encouraged!
3. Bridge brand management and talent management
Establishing a connection between your brand and your consumers are not limited only to social media and paid ads. In fact, the most critical interaction that they may have is with your team.
Having said that, your brand management and talent management teams should go hand in hand when strategizing how to hire people who fit your brand. After all, your people are the ones delivering your brand promise to the customers.
Beyond the technical qualities required to fulfill a job, start by looking into soft skills that complement your work environment. This could be collaborativeness, creativity, adaptability, etc. You may also want to delve into each employee’s work personalities and determine how they match their roles and the people they work with. This can help you pinpoint areas for improvement that you can use in tailoring training programs.
Finally, it pays to orient them on the ins and outs of your brands. But more than just cracking open the branding handbook, top management can lead by example by embodying what the brand stands for.
When there’s a deep respect and connection between a brand and its employees, they can become the most effective ambassadors to represent your brand. Studies show that employees who share content about the company they work for receive 8x more engagement than content posted on branded social media pages.
Brand orientation is a straightforward concept yet can be tricky to master, especially if you’re just starting out. It takes time, lots of trial and error, and a consistent effort in ensuring that all brand orientation elements are present in every decision you make.
Regardless, businesses that keep brand orientation at the forefront are more likely to break through barriers and reach greater heights. Just take your cue from brand oriented companies like Netflix and Dell.
Need a little help? Tap our experts and check out how our brand services can propel your business forward.