“A good name is better than riches.”
Most people misunderstand branding today. And it’s costing them. Most people want a brand because they know it raises margins, that great brands keep employees and that their focus causes them to accomplish much more with what they have.
Companies Invest in the Wrong Things
Money: spend too much money, investing in a look and feel.
- Branding agencies give you what you’re able to inspire. If you’re trying to be like everyone else, they’ll give you a nice, contemporary look and feel that will not distinguish you at all, but will make you look current.
- We’ve trained them that way. Even the good ones are so used to clients saying that they want to matter, but then shooting down every idea that could make the brand stand out.
- So they’ve learned to play it safe. No matter how much they talk about taking risks and focusing your relevance, it’s just not something they can make money off of. So they sell out.
Time: spent putting out fires instead of building processes to ensure that the same fires don’t spring up again.
- If you’re always putting out fires, when do you have time to build process?
- Or if you’re constantly changing direction, how do your trusted managers build process? They almost have to do it behind your back in order to get anything done. I’ve been there.
Emotion: on getting frustrated, instead of leading with clarity.
- If you’re only focused on short-term victories, but aren’t planning to win the war, how will you know which setbacks are ones you should worry about and ones you should overlook?
- If you can’t focus on a long-term goal, how will your employees and customers know what you’re really about and can follow you? How will people know to weed themselves out of your audience and your team?
There’s Bad News, and there’s Good News
The bad news is that this doesn’t happen overnight. Think of it as a capital expense in your brand. Because it takes more than good intentions to be a good brand; it requires character.
Character in a company is not built by repeating a mission statement and having everyone memorize it. It’s by being inspired by your own mission, vision and values. And if they’re not inspiring, you gotta fix that.
- Building community inside and outside.
- Building expectations that your competition can’t match.
- Building processes that back up your claims. In fact, build the bones of the processes, and then make the promises.
Here’s a confession. With very few exceptions, everything I learned about branding comes not from advertising classes, mass communication literature or watching the best advertising agencies; it came from leadership literature. Listening to guys like Leadership Freak Dan Rockwell and reading Stephen Covey.
- In fact, most of us live this way in our lives. Most of us aren’t climbers who don’t care about leadership and only care about our own status.
- Most of us aren’t worshiping the almighty dollar at the expense of our families and relationships.
- There’s no reason we shouldn’t treat a business as a place where relationships and character bring value to life.
Branding Can’t be Bought. But It Can Be Earned
Folks, branding can’t be bought. But if you commit to doing it right, it can not only raise your margins, but it can give you a business that you’re proud of, that you can enjoy coming into every day. We just have to remember that it’s always about people, our promises to them, and our ability to fulfill those promises.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, and you want to learn more about standing up a brand in your own organization using the brand hacking method, which is keeping it simple and iterating quickly, then let’s talk.
Bio: I’m Chris Stadler, and I’ve been watching, working, studying and consulting for brands since 2004. I will show you how to right-size your promises so that they’re promises you can keep. Because it’s not the expensive branding agencies that make great brands; they’re just the decorators. It’s your leadership and integrity that make it all work. But it takes process.