When you think of today’s strongest brands, it’s no longer just the image of the logo. Rather, it is the mental image of a story or an experience that presents a much richer narrative of that brand: BMW’s joyful drivers, Patagonia’s fearless climbers, or Apple’s simple, flawless and ubiquitous geometry might come to mind.
These are brands with idenities that use powerful imagery to tell stories that reverberate through complex media strategies and ripple across the globe. Of course, these are some of the biggest, savviest, and best-known companies today. Without a doubt, the brand status these companies each enjoy requires hefty and on-going investments. But, for smaller businesses, while the investment doesn’t have be great, getting the essential elements of the brand right can make a substantial difference on marketing effectiveness and competitiveness.
Too often, I’ve observed a sort of WYSIWYG mentality to brand management that limits organizational performance on a variety of fronts. SEO, word of mouth, talent attraction and retention, buyer preference, and customer experience – these are the factors that build great businesses, and all rely on the clarity and communication of a strong brand geared to drive the business.
Strong brands are created with purpose. Whether it was explicit or not, every organization started with a purpose – a founder’s sense of the difference it seeks to make in the world. If you haven’t taken the time to articulate yours, it’s a worthwhile exercise that will yield practical guidance (for years to come) to every person in your organization on decisions of every scale. The outcome will be a more cohesive organization that navigates to the same beacon on horizon.
Unlike many other organizational strategies, purpose is deceptively simple. And, because its effectiveness has only to do with its veracity as an internal guide, it is not for public consumption and is not subject to the sort of differentiating marketing poetics that often yield distinct and musical phrases that mean nothing (to anyone but the people who wrote them). In fact, two fiercely competitive companies can have the same purpose but very different value propositions, which underpin equally different customer experiences. Indeed, with a true-to-you organizational purpose in hand, the key strategic elements of your brand platform will be emerge more naturally, be more directly related to the business, be leaner and more aligned with each other and the organization, and be much more effective.
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