Brand Purpose in the Services Supply Chain

What a brand stands for is already critically important for customers and employees, but its role in the services supply chain is an emerging consideration for procurement teams.

Posted by: ZivioReading time: 4 minutes

The value of a brand is well established – The employer brand is valuable asset in the highly competitive talent marketplace with Gallup's research showing that working for a purpose is a key factor in when deciding on career options. And for consumers, a brand's position is equality important. For example, for modern consumers, sustainability and diversity are non-negotiables.
But now, as organisations are looking to alternative ways to get things done, the importance of brand is being highlighted in a new area - Brand purpose in the supply chain is becoming a real consideration for procurement teams looking to work with external service providers.
As we discussed in our conversation on strategic workforce planning, HR teams organisations are already facing a number of challenges with regards to brand purpose. For example, the rise in remote working has the potential to reduce loyalty to a brand and place more importance on the craft or purpose of a role. 
Additionally, IR35 reforms and other legislative changes are posing questions about how to attract and retain an organisation's contractor population. With debate ongoing as to whether Procurement teams are responsible for this contingent resource, this suddenly asks the question, how does an organisation create a compelling freelancer/contractor value proposition?
On top of these existing challenges, organisations now need to consider how to reflect brand purpose with their services supply chain to continue to work with innovative, high-performing suppliers. Perhaps creating a Supplier Value Proposition is a step too far but highlights how a brand behaves impacts on its ability to work and collaborate with the best suppliers.
Brand purpose goes both ways with suppliers
Where the brand considerations get a little more interesting with the supplier change is that the importance of brand goes both ways. Managing and getting value from supplier relationships is a responsibility procurement professionals have long been comfortable with. Historically, the relationship has appeared one-sided for the majority – organisations leaning on suppliers for better commercials. 
However, As shown in the last 12-18 months, how brands react to social trends and issues, can be make or break for suppliers. There have been some high-profile misjudgements on social issues where it has driven a wedge between an organisation and its supply chains. 
The convergence of consumer and employer brand
As an organisation's response to real-world issues continues to impact its ability to attract talent, suppliers and consumers, its consumer and employer brands will increasingly intersect and overlap.
The long-term solution is surely to drop the consumer/employer prefixes and concentrate on a single, holistic, brand strategy to have an authentic purpose and set of believes that attracts customers, employees, contractors, and suppliers alike.
Of course, while this makes sense to an observer, it creates another layer of complexity in the procurement of services – who is responsible for brand governance? Should the consumer-facing brand marketing function take ownership of how a brand is positioned with its suppliers? 
Answering that question is tricky but for the day-to-day role of a services procurement professional, the more pressing issue is getting visibility of the mix (and alignment of) brand values in their current supply chains. Who are the organisations current suppliers that share a common sustainability or diversity goal?
Technology's role in aligning brand purpose with suppliers
Visibility is where services-focused procurement software can help organisations align their supply chains on brand purpose. 
Zivio enables procurement teams to gather qualitative performance data on suppliers using configurable review scores. This means over time, procurement can build a data-driven picture of their suppliers' alignment to specific areas of brand purpose, like sustainability or diversity. And this means it can be used alongside quantitative and other qualitative metrics during sourcing and project award.


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