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Whether intentional or incidental, your organization has a brand—an image the employees and organization as a whole portray. If your organization’s leadership isn’t actively curating the brand, chances are your customers, critics and competition are defining it for you.

Creating a brand is far more than designing a logo. A brand covers how employees interact with customers, how they treat one another, how they view leadership, and how they talk for and about the organization. A consistent, positive brand builds trust among customers and the community, aids employee recruitment, and helps the organization weather ups and downs. Even in the public service sector, an agency’s image can affect its budget, standing and support in the community.

Building a consistent brand starts with maintaining consistent policies. Here are a few places to start:

Weave your values into every policy

Ultimately, branding isn’t about what you’re doing, it’s about why you’re doing it. No matter what field you’re in, you’re not really marketing a product or service. You’re marketing your values.

Gather organizational leaders and create a mission statement. What is most important to your organization? What promises do you make to your clients and community? What sets you apart from other organizations in your field? Once you’ve crafted a clear, concise mission statement, reiterate it in every press release, sales call, recruitment event and training session. Weave the core values into every policy to make sure all employees buy into the purpose behind their work.

Make sure leaders represent the brand well

Brand consistency comes from the inside out. If leaders and employees treat one another well, it will translate to how they treat customers.

Brand policies should address hiring and promotion practices as well as internal codes of conduct. It is essential that those promoted to leadership positions can represent the brand and have a philosophy that lines up with organizational values.

Create a style guide

An organizational voice is important for a consistent brand. If the company’s marketing materials are written in a formal, academic tone, it would be off brand for the social media accounts to use a conversational, comedic voice. To promote consistency, organization leaders should create a style guide for external communication. Style policies should include a set of questions the content creator has to answer before hitting publish—ensuring every post matches up with the brand voice and vocabulary, and is consistent with organizational values. Creating a communications policy with checks and balances can help avoid miscommunication or social media misfires.

Brand consistency starts on the policy level. As your organization is creating and revising policies, make sure they hold to your mission statement, train leaders and employees to represent your brand and use language that portrays the right image. Effective brand policies can ensure that customers have a consistent and positive experience every time they come across your organization.

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