Saturday, July 20, 2013

Where are the Focal Point to Brand IT Effectively

IT brand identity should be supported by the message you create and distribute to your customers.

Most of IT organizations today are still being portrayed as the back-office cost center, to re-in-imagine IT, IT branding needs to be part of IT transformation effort, and IT branding strategy should be an integral part of IT strategy. Your brand identity will be the face you put on your IT organization and it flows from your brand strategy. IT brand identity should be supported by the message you create and distribute to your customers. After you have your IT brand strategy and your IT brand identity in place, you can actually market the IT brand inside the enterprise. There are three focal points in IT branding that needs to be focused on:

1  Self-Reflection

Take a critical look at IT, you need to be honest with yourself about assessing the strengths and weaknesses of IT organization. Then you should validate your observations by seeking input from your customers. The customer experience should reinforce the IT Branding efforts. If your branding efforts and the customer experience don’t match up, your branding efforts will be wasted.

  • Customer satisfaction surveys: So you need to do frequent Customer Satisfaction Surveys on the IT services offerings and know your strengths and weakness from customer view. The survey results are also used (in part) to craft a vision/mission and values statement. In turn, these statements (were framed and displayed on the wall) and effectively communicated (on a global basis) using an assortment of avenues. In short, IT should be held accountable to the user community 
  • Internal Surveys: Broadly craft an internal survey and provide it to all IT Services staff. Identify a list of core values that we all shared in common. It is okay to not sign the survey and remain anonymous, but encourage all staff to participate and provide input. 
  • Information grid: Create a comprehensive list of the IT organization’s strengths, weaknesses, goals, and objectives based on self-evaluation and survey result. Map the information into an information grid. This grid will serve as the reality check for your IT brand strategy. Your goals and objectives will be your drivers. Your strengths and weaknesses will be your constraints So IT branding turns to be an element of IT organization’s Strategy. 

2. Communication with Stakeholders

Line up all the different communication channels through which you can deliver the key IT messages (one-on-one conversations, a newsletter, a boardroom presentation, a town hall meeting, hand-outs for a training session, etc.). IT needs to communicate with all different stakeholders, for each segment, make note of how they think and act today with regard to IT services, and how you want them to think and act tomorrow

  • First, analyze your customer base, and identify the major ‘segments’ you serve. Consumers of your services – your ‘end users.’  
  • Executives, the senior managers who sponsor the work you do, fund your projects and make decisions that affect your strategy  
  • Employees, the people who make the operation work and who deliver your projects or transactional services  
  • Key suppliers or external partners, especially upon how to build long-term partner relationships.   
Identify the key messages you want to convey to each of these different stakeholder groups. This is your brand – the team identity you want people to retain -- so it is urgent to know exactly what image you intend to convey. 

3. IT Branding Methodology & Mechanism

Step three essentially consists of combining what you learned in steps one and two to create a comprehensive list of the IT organization’s strengths, weaknesses, goals, and objectives. For successful IT branding, basically, you are asking yourself: What are we trying to accomplish? Are we on the right path? What do we aspire to achieve? Is “what we look” consistent with “who we are”? Create metrics for the delivery of these key messages, put them in the objectives of IT managers and start tracking them in the staff meetings.

  • There should always have substance behind branding message: Some CIOs are looking at the idea of creating logos and slogans not only to convey who IT is and what it can offer but also to ensure that business clients won't forget it. The key is: Branding and internal marketing campaigns cannot be just puffery or publicity. If there’s no substance behind your key messages – if you cannot actually deliver the services you’re supposed to deliver – there’s no point in starting. Branding is also not something that takes time away from the fundamentals of operations, execution, and management. It is instead a methodology, a different way of looking at how you do these things.  
  • Set up an IT Governance council structure. Set up sub-groups made up of users with an IT person chairing it. Have an Executive oversight team made up of IT leaders and the leaders of your company, set priorities, look at things like IT budget, maintenance costs, new software available., etc 
  • Toning the structure of IT into a (flat) team-oriented organization to deliver the services mapping the branding message (1) Client Services, (2) Solutions Services, and (3) Operational Services, etc. Identify the brand with quality and accountability. And again, communicated this to the user community.  
  • Multiple branding/communication channels, such as IT weekly/monthly newsletter; brown-bag lunch IT seminar, demo., etc. to talk about a new software project, or PC roll-out, or anything else that is important to the business users and IT, with Q&A.  
There are best practices and next practices to create and reinforce IT brand, to promote innovation and create new knowledge streams. The true value is created at the intersection of many disciplines. The business goal of IT branding is to have all (if possible) audiences at every level of enterprise weighed-in with delight. And don’t forget to train the IT staff, they are the brand ambassadors.


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