To many in the reverse logistics industry, a brand is just a logo – a basic design element imprinted on stationery and tradeshow giveaways. But a brand should be much more than merely artwork on a ballcap. When developed thoughtfully, it should serve as the flag for a reverse logistics business in the same way as a flag stands for a country.
A company’s brand should unite its employees and forge connection with customers. It should convey value messaging and instill positive perception among target audiences. Anything less is a missed opportunity. Reverse logistics organizations that have given little thought to their brand lately may want to step back and take some time to reflect on whether it is still relevant and has evolved with their overall business strategy.
Branding in the context of the reverse supply chain is just as important as the forward – if not more so. When something inevitably goes wrong with a product, consumers must have the confidence and trust in the brand that everything will be made right on the back end.
Those willing to stand behind a brand with generous return times, hassle free policies or other positive gestures are likely to be rewarded with all-important future purchases. Those preferring to play hardball may lose the loyalty of customers who feel unsupported, abandoned and ultimately burned by their buying decision.
Voice of the Customer
If it’s time to update your branding, customers must be at the forefront of the development process. Their voice and perceptions are critical components of creating an identity that will form a connection and help instill loyalty. Some possible questions to consider asking customers as part of a brand reboot:
• How do you perceive Company X – what do you like about doing business with them? What don’t you like?
• What is Company X’s greatest value to you as a customer?
• If you could change one thing about how Company X operates, what would it be?
• What is your interaction like with Company X employees?
• If you choose to do business with one of Company X’s competitors, what are the main factors?
The voice of the customer can help a business discover strengths and weaknesses it may never have thought of previously. Rebranding in a vacuum deprives the process of valuable feedback that could be leveraged as a guiding light to a successful development and transition.
The challenge with this approach is that a business must actually be dedicated to “living” the brand promise going forward. If an asset recovery business’ new brand is intended to convey environmentally-conscious procedures, it must have the operational procedures in place to make this happen day in and day out.
Real World Rebranding
Encompass Supply Chain Solutions, Inc. – a leading provider of repair parts, 3PL and 4PL services and member of the Reverse Logistics Association – just launched a new brand, replacing its original identifier with a fresh, energetic design and color scheme, as well as a descriptive tagline: Simply PartsTM.
This rebranding was the result of extensive analysis and customer feedback. Its former identifier had been viewed as too complex, lethargic, staid and cold – all negative attributes for a company flag. The new brand is designed to be more friendly, progressive, easy and modern.
“Simply Parts” is intended to help streamline messaging of the company’s broad services, manufacturer brands and customer segments down to its core business: everything Encompass offers to customers revolves around parts in some way – from supply chain management to distribution to reverse logistics.
The importance of company employees to executing an effective rebranding initiative cannot be emphasized enough. It is vital for staff at every level of an organization to embrace the brand – their flag. They must understand its value messaging and strive to deliver on its customer service promise every day. After all, a flag is meaningless without people behind it to drive its principles.
Comprehensive, effective communication is key to minimizing confusion and engaging customers and employees with a new brand. Both audiences should be provided with the rationale behind the change, so they understand that the purpose is deeper than just a slick new logo design.
As a company flag, branding must connect and resonate with both the employees who carry it daily and the customers who keep it alive. And it should help foster customer loyalty by delivering on the promises it represents.
Otherwise, a brand really is as worthless as a logo on a T-shirt.
Kristin Hurst joined Encompass in 2009 and is responsible for marketing, sales support, public relations and internal communications efforts for the company. She has nearly 30 years of experience in the marketing and communications field. Most recently, she served as Director of Brand & Communications for HD Supply, a $10 billion wholesale distributor and spin-off division of The Home Depot.
Previous to HD Supply, Kristin was Content Manager and Account Executive for Inline Marketing, an agency specializing in technology clients. She also served as Corporate Communications Manager for Star Systems, the country’s leading ATM/debit network, and as a staff writer in the Public Relations Department of Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla.
She began her career as a staff writer for the Osceola News-Gazette where she was recognized with numerous journalism awards from the Florida Press Association. Kristin earned a B.A. degree in English with concentration in Communications from Florida Southern College