A great brand is a reflection of the soul of the company. Or, to quote Bill Taylor in the Harvard Business Review, “Your brand is your culture. Your culture is your brand.”
And building a truly great brand, that’s the goal, right? To build a brand that customers, prospects and exceptional employees all aspire to, that unifies people around a common purpose, that adds value to the organization.
Alignment between sales and marketing, between management and operations, specifically around the needs of the customer, is a practical, tangible reflection of a strong culture. Everyone on the same page, everyone aware of their individual responsibilities, everyone accountable to the success of the team. That is culture. That is brand.
What are the characteristics of a truly great brand? The answer is complex, of course, unique to every company. But ask any successful CEO, and they’ll tell you that one critical element to meeting your most ambitious goals is tobuild a team that believes in the same mission, that is unified in its efforts toward a common goal.
Great idea, but how?
You begin with a thorough understanding of the core values that drive your business. Because you can’t really think about your products or your customers without first thinking about your people. Success is more than effective marketing or focused sales teams. Great brands also care more — about their customers, about their employees, about how they behave (and are perceived) in the world.
That kind of unified focus not only clarifies who you are and how you help your customers — it also helps attract both new customers and new employees who share those same values.
And while every company and every industry is different, there are common threads that run through all success stories.
Research and Insights
This process always begins with a long, hard look in the mirror to uncover the soul of your company. What are the non-negotiable beliefs that you are unwilling to compromise for the simple expediency of sales?
You might be surprised to learn that they aren’t what you think they are. Or rather, that the perceptions and beliefs of your team are deeper and more nuanced than you imagined. There are a number of qualitative methods, from in-depth interviews to field observations to job shadowing, that reveal the subtle truths. That kind of self-evaluation, though sometimes difficult, can be liberating, even inspiring when it leads to a clearly articulated sense of purpose.
Defining the soul of your organization
Give voice to the values that drive your business. Speak to the reasons why you do what you do, because those are the emotions that inspire people. When people feel they are part of something, something meaningful, they do more than “get the job done.” They care. They take their jobs personally.
That kind of shared belief is tangible. Customers feel it. Prospective employees feel it. People want to be a part of it.
Be true to yourself
You cannot fake belief. You cannot fake sincerity. To try is to invite backlash when the promises you make differ from the reality of the customer and employee experiences you provide.
Be clear. Be concise.
Clear writing and clear design are the byproduct of clear thinking. It’s also hard work. But clear writing and great design also penetrate the noise, allowing your message to resonate. Do the work.
Eudaimonia describes a deep, sustaining form of happiness that comes when we live well, love well and form strong connections with the people in our lives. It is that form of happiness that is the soul of Taziki’s Café.Read the case study
Speak to the underlying emotion
Nobody buys because of facts and figures. Yes, we talk a lot these days about data. But mostly, we use data to rationalize a decision we’ve already made. We’ve seen time and again people make buying decisions that are easily proven to be not in their best interests. People connect to stories. They connect to emotion. People want to be moved; they want to be inspired. So, aspire to something more. Ask people to take the journey with you. That’s how great brands endure.
Show don’t tell
Don’t talk to me about your values, show them to me in practice. Whether it’s internal messaging to your team or external marketing to your customers, prove what you say. Again, people connect with stories. Culture informs the message.
Then repeat the message
It’s funny. Over the years, we’ve helped a number of companies create this kind of internal brand. And every time, the message that inspired employees also proved to be equally compelling to customers and prospects. Maybe this is proof that your employees truly are your most important asset.
Trust in the intelligence of your audience
It’s a common refrain these days to say that people don’t read, that people don’t think. It’s also untrue. People want to believe in something larger than themselves. They want to believe that business is about more than profit and growth at all costs. Exceptional companies do indeed make a profit, but there is more to it than that. In their soul, they care about people. They care about making life better.
As David Ogilvy said, “The consumer is not a moron: she’s your wife.” Trust that.