Get Your Spend Management Brand On

Spend Matters would like to welcome a guest post from Jim Heininger, Founder of Dixon|James Communications

To gain internal support and adoption of your spend management program it's wise to borrow the same branding techniques used by major consumer package good marketers. Branding the program helps lift it above a traditional corporate department designation and gives you the opportunity to instill vision and energy into the effort.

A brand is a trustmark. It's the promise to customers that a specific level of value, quality and service will be received. Based in the stakeholder's mind, a brand is the collection of words, images, experiences, emotions and associations. For spend management or procurement technology integration efforts the brand needs to represent the value you'll bring, be it easy procurement, cost savings, efficiency or perhaps the ability to purchase more wisely. Design the brand to help you overcome the cultural and structural obstacles that your company presents.

Your brand should include these different elements:

  • The brand essence or promise -- Produce a clearly articulated, customer focused statement that defines your "reason for being." This should be your team's rallying cry.
  • The name -- A compelling 1-3 word name that captures this essence and employee's attention. This name needs to be easy to read, say and understand. It also needs to stand the test of time.
  • A tagline -- A motivating statement or call to action that tells the value of the effort.
  • The logo -- The visual identification of the brand essence and name. Incorporate the company's name or logo icon to ensure that stakeholders understand that this is a company owned and led initiative and not supplier driven.
  • Brand language -- Construct a set of customer-friendly statements and messages that are used consistently in presenting the program. Brands are built through consistency and repetition.
  • Brand guidelines -- Explicit direction on how the brand will be communicated and visually displayed, the "guard rails" that the team should follow to protect the brand's integrity.

My suggestion is that you brand the overall department or initiative and then create sub brands for tools or services that you offer. It will be important to gain awareness of the overall mission to bring value to procurement but that is achieved through different services that select employee groups may experience. For example, SpendSmart is the name of McDonald's U.S. Indirect Procurement's spend management initiative, the SpendSmart Marketplace is the electronic purchasing tool used by employees and franchise operators. Zurich reportedly named its online purchasing tool eZbuy, inserting a little corporate branding into the name. I've also heard one company use TIGERS and acronym for Totally Integrated Global Electronic Requisitioning System.

In our work supporting corporate spend management program, we've found that branding the campaign plays a tremendous role in aligning excitement and support. For one company it was important to convey the simplicity the procurement department was bringing employees by converting from a myriad of different technology tools to one integrated platform. A leader in the automotive industry, the name OneWay seemed fitting.

You know branding works when employees can recite the value of your spend management program. A senior executive of one client organization commented that this current initiative was successful (where other spend management efforts had failed) because of the way the program "was romanced" in its language and look. That's good evidence that a creative and compelling brand will work hard to gain understanding and adoption.

-- Jim Heininger, Founder of Dixon|James Communications

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