Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Branding Update
August 14, 2013

Focusing on Staff Proficiency

In past Branding Updates we have discussed some of the intricacies of building public trust through a conscious branding effort, creating compelling arguments for investment, and building relationships with the influential public. In case it is not yet clear, this is all about forging relationships. The trust being sought is trust in the leaders and employees of the utility. To build this trust, senior managers and staff need to be well versed in branding and communication principles, and be capable of taking effective action. So, it is essential to think in terms of increasing the staff's proficiency in specific areas.

Key Principles - Understanding the application of branding principles to water and wastewater utilities

Mission and Vision - Fully grasping the difference between the brand, the mission statement, and vision

Transparency - Creating transparency that builds sharing information that emphasizes the logic behind important policy decisions and investment proposals

Planning - Developing a strategic plan is that is brief, based on the brand, empowers the staff, and communicates the significant standards influencing activities and proposed investments

Relationship with Governance - Understanding and meeting the needs of policy makers

Investment Proposals - Making a compelling argument for an investment or rate increase

Policy Briefings - Creating and adopting a "policy brief" that outlines the information necessary to create a compelling argument

The Need for Investment - Developing an investment imperative that becomes the foundation for connecting with community leaders

Community-Leader Relationships - Systematically building relationships with the influential public

Meaningful Information - Properly categorizing shared information, so people reading the utility's communication materials immediately know what they are reading and why it's important

Focused Outreach - Prioritizing and designing outreach efforts that support policy makers and sound policy decisions

Website Effectiveness - Designing a website architecture that reflects the brand, makes it easy for customers to solve problems, is not loaded with unnecessary information, and provides important facts about long-term planning, needed investment, and rates

Case Studies that Build Trust in Specific Areas - Drafting and sharing return-on-investment and efficiency case studies

Annual Report - Producing an annual report that articulates the "good deal" that the utility provides to the community, using language that conveys relevant facts and is not perceived as self promotion

Opinions about Public Employees - Crafting communication strategies that enhance perceptions of public employees, including their value, professionalism, and compensation

This journey can be described as "practicing principles to achieve proficiency." The good news is that the process of becoming proficient also builds the brand. The result is managers and staff members that are able to increase trust with customers and community leaders, and secure the financial resources needed to fulfill the utility's mission.

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