Saturday, March 7, 2009

Comply or DIE!

Differentiate or die - stand out from the crowd - swim free from the sea of sameness, these phrases are the mantra of the modern branding mind set. You and I know that they are true, but their implementation is a challenge. Finding that nugget that compels your target audience can be a daunting task at best. If you want the point of differentiation to hold water and last, it has to be something that comes from the core of your brand. It must compliment your brand values and frustrate your competition.

One solution might be - Compliance Branding.

If you are in an industry such as manufacturing or the food service industry, you are currently heavily regulated. If you are a manufacturer who exports, you 'enjoy' an increased level of scrutiny. CTPAT is among the latest. The food service industry must meet stringent health and safety compliances. At the end of the day, adhering to industry, and government compliances make you competent to do business within your category, but it does nothing to differentiate you. You are simply on an equal footing with your compliant competitors.

Compliance Branding builds on the already established trust that your competitors have for compliances. They recognize that, if you are compliant you are a professional in your field, and they will be protected in doing business with you.

So to benefit from customers who trust and respect compliances, you should develop and implement your very own self-administered compliance. Take a hard look at how you do business. What processes are in place that your company uses to improve your productivity or service delivery? Are these functions proprietary? They must be your own. I have to stress that this tool must be real. Your self-administered compliance cannot be advertising spin. It must in trackable and validated like any standard compliance. There must be regulations in place to keep it real.

Let's say you have a chain of restaurants, and of course there are compliances that you are forced to have if your wish to stay in that business. Many time these compliances are the minimum standards. Here is your chance to shine. Make it your goal to raise the bar and implement a cleaner than clean compliance. Together with your management staff and front-line employees, try to come up with a procedure that follows this initiative through to completion. Develop a validation and follow-up process to check the validity of the claim, into the future - self-policing your compliance. There should be penalties for any deficiencies.

Your next step is to give it an image. This should take the form of a crest or symbol. Now when you launch it, you can claim that you are the only restaurant with "XXX Cleanliness." It is a great PR topic and good news story. Because it is your compliance, your competition can't apply to get it. It will probably drive them crazy trying to determine how they can also be awarded this honor. This marketing initiative can be effective in nearly any industry.

Ideally, having the assistance of a Compliance Branding consultant will have you self-compliant quicker and I just happen to know a good one :)


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