An organisation’s brand is a result. But what are the elements that contribute to the achievement and how do they relate to each other? These are the questions I explore every week in my writing and every day in my thinking. So, I developed a formula to answer to them.
Numerous taxonomies exist for a brand, most usually they include things such as ‘essence’ and ‘personality’. Yet, the organisation already has abundant elements to align and navigate how they think and what they do, and piling more into the mix is not helpful and is often harmful. So ‘the brand formula’ focuses on using things organisations already have and in the process strengthens those foundations.
The brand formula
The first element of the formula is ‘identity’, which holds the organisation’s purpose and values. Then, it uses the other two elements of ‘promises’ and ‘experience’ (all stakeholders) to put the identity in motion and achieve the brand as a result.
There’s no shortage of advice on the importance of purpose and values. I’ll leave the current tyranny about what your purpose and values ‘should be’ to others and encourage you to look for them beyond purpose motherhood statements about ‘a better world’, and values tropes of honesty, integrity and trust. And if you haven’t yet done the work to discover and understand your identity get started today.
Promises are far less explored, and in my experience, many get made in a remarkably cavalier way. There is an insidious ‘we can always apologise if we don’t keep it’ mentality. And the resulting increase of over-promising abdicates responsibility and flirts with making promises without intending to keep them. Yet once made, promises set up a future that is made current via experience.
When I talk about promises in relation to brand people often misunderstand me and think I mean a so-called ‘brand promise’ (which is often part of other taxonomies). The promises I’m talking about are not some big ideal. They encompass the full landscape of an organisation from the boardroom to the customer and along the way touch all places and parts internal and external.
Promises are the connective tissue linking the intention held in identity with what the organisation intends through to the experience delivered by the organisation.
Whether it is employees, customers or other stakeholders, such as investors, suppliers or partners, the experience is delivered by hundreds of unheroic things coming together at the point where someone interacts with the organisation.
By employees who know how their work matters. By finance practices that support the purpose. By technology that enables. By well-designed products and services customers need and want. By consistent and dependable delivery. By sales and marketing devoid of hype. And on and on.
The experience either keeps or breaks the promises with the resulting brand either a continuing accomplishment or an eroding one.
When you take what you care about and use it to help shape the promises you make, you’re more likely to keep them. When you use your purpose and values in all your actions and decisions, they’re more likely to reflect them, keep the promises you made and become reasons to believe.
What would change if you approached your brand result through the formula? How would you think differently about the way you use your identity, make promises and deliver the experience?
It isn’t a silver bullet or a publicity grab. You’ve got to do the work. And when done every day, across the big things and unheroic day-to-day things by everyone in the organisation a robust, resilient brand is a result.
See you next week.