What was once assumed, is now clearly articulated and actionable.
In my previous article, I talk about the difference between brand development and brand management. I describe management as the branches of a tree, having to do with efforts such as marketing, advertising, and PR. Development is the trunk and root system dealing with values, character and differentiation.
Beginning with the management phase is a common practice when an organization is faced with change. However, how can you manage something you haven’t accurately developed, don’t deeply understand and can’t clearly communicate?
Why is development vital?
In an April 2015 article published by the Harvard Business Review titled Leadership: Measuring The Return On Character, they state, “CEOs who are rated high on four moral principles deliver better financial results than those who aren’t.”
The study by Minneapolis-based leadership consultancy, KRW International, found that “CEOs whose employees gave them high marks for character had an average return on assets of 9.35% over a two-year period. That’s nearly five-times as much as what those with low character ratings had.”
The reason development is so vital to the success of a brand is because ideas such as values, character and differentiation are often “felt” or “assumed” by the leadership team rather than defined and communicated. A brand gets its power from values. Values come from core beliefs. By not clarifying these, it opens the opportunity for employees to apply their personal opinion as to who the company is, what it does and why it matters.
This ultimately creates division within the internal culture, increases employee turnover and stagnates progress. Leadership recognizes this decline and budgets for new marketing initiatives, updated logos, brochures, web sites or social media plans; only to see a temporary spike. Once the spike levels out, they hire another marketing or advertising firm to repeat the process.
Doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result is, well …
You can only change what you’re aware of. Most companies don’t realize they’re on autopilot, operating on a reactionary level to the situations and circumstances they’re currently in.
Development equals awareness.
As a brand consultant, I specialize in development. I guide clients to form deep roots, build a solid foundation and branch out as an authentic brand. This is done through discovering and clarifying the organization’s core values, character and differentiation among other aspects.
At the center of this are the core beliefs. They provide the foundation for the internal culture. They hold all the possibility for growth, guide decision-making and humanize your organization. People know how to interact with other people, not corporations. Cultivating awareness of intangible qualities, both positive and negative, creates an emotional bond for stakeholders.
Breathe life into the heart of what you do.
Development doesn’t only focus on who you are. It gets to the heart of why you’re different, what you do better than anyone else and how that connects with your audience. It develops a position. It puts a flag in the ground and stands for something. Development requires focus, discipline and most of all, brutal honesty.
Build a resilient brand.
Resilience is the ability to properly adapt to stress or adversity. How do you respond when business is going well? What about when sales are struggling? How you do anything is how you do everything. An organization with a well-developed true self uses it to remain flexible when market conditions change. They lean on the qualities that make them unique and don’t deviate in the face of trends.
It’s not “set it and forget it.”
Developing your brand’s core is not something you do once and file it away. You want your employees to be living the brand. You want customers to connect with the value you offer. As time evolves, your organization evolves. Core beliefs will remain, however, values may reprioritize, character traits mature and audience needs change.
To maintain alignment of your brand’s authentic self, you must check-in periodically and examine the current situation. Gauging how your organization and market has evolved will allow you to create from your true core rather than focusing on external competitors.
By getting to the true self of the brand for all stakeholders to see is a powerful realization. What was once assumed, is now clearly articulated and actionable. Not only is the ‘what’ and ‘how’ understood but more importantly, the ‘why.’