The American Marketing Association defines “brand” as a "name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers."1
While none of us have products that we “sell” to our community, we provide services to them 24/7 and all of us strive to have positive customer experiences with our communities in each of our interactions. In law enforcement terms, your “brand” is your reputation; it’s what your community expects of you and what they innately feel when your organization becomes a topic of conversation.
Social media has proven to be a tremendous tool in helping law enforcement define and reinforce your brand. If you don’t define your department brand, the public or the media will do it for you. When you respond to your community within your social media channels, it’s imperative to use your unique brand voice (for a great blog article on “voice” be sure to read Lynn Hightower’s post on the topic here
Defining Your Brand
Every law enforcement organization possesses a unique department culture; largely due to the communities we protect and serve. We have unique mission statements, organizational values, qualities, and services. What sets your organization apart from others in your area is your unique “brand.” The “secret sauce” of social media is how that brand is then communicated through your social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. A good consistent branding message will add to your organization’s credibility and help showcase your organizational values.
The word cloud below was generated using words from various mission and vision statements from police departments throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area. These are the words we want our communities to know us by. Without the benefit of social media, the value and impact of these words are left to business cards, patrol vehicle bumpers, and mission statements displayed in our lobbies. With social media, our department messaging is consistent and reaches our community through their smartphones and computers. Whether replying to someone heaping praise on our department or complaining about something an officer did, we stay true to our brand and consistently provide responses that highlight many of the words shown below. In doing so, we ensure that our “brand” remains strong, untarnished, and credible.
“When you surprise and delight even one customer, the world is watching.”- Dave Kerpen