I’ve been thinking about a pitch a friend of mine is doing next week and how he’s asked me to help him interpret the value of brand thinking. And while I think this can be made more real to the client only through a conversation with them (so he can apply this in a more real way to situations that are more real to them), I may have started to articulate an argument.
I was thinking about my own beliefs and what they have to do with my professional life. In other words, this journey I’m taking toward a more-correct view of God, people and the Universe gives me a model for branding. Because branding bases uniqueness (not on randomness, but) on a better understanding of truth. And customers are drawn to that.
But let’s get more to the argument of internal consistency (internal branding), which is where it all starts. A good brand is held accountable by its own stated values. It takes a stand. Employees know that, and they’ll sense when you’re not consistent. The other side of this is that, when employees see leadership that’s specific about what it does, admits its mistakes and is willing to do the hard things to fix them, the employees feel good about what they’re doing. So the first step is finding out what promises a brand can and should make/keep (maybe through a SWOT analysis).
And when a company starts to understand what it’s good at and how it serves people (which help us understand “why they should be in business”), it starts to move toward making more keepable (right?) promises.
When employees understand what makes them different, they can make good decisions. When they know that they’re standing for something good, they’re motivated to sell it. When they’re united around a central truth they all believe in, they work together. And when they believe their brand is doing the right thing, they know how to answer critics. In fact, they relish it.
This takes exploration (defining core concepts about mission, vision and values), agreement and negotiation (getting the leadership on-board) and education (making sure your employees understand and are allowed to question). In other words, this doesn’t happen without leadership that can both communicate relevant truths, but who’s made specific arrangements to find those truths and be accountable to them.
In other words, the only way to give employees a cause, rather than a job, is to mature from a company into a brand.