Too often companies confuse an illustration as being the brand. While the logo serves as the flagship, brand strategy is much deeper. Here are my guiding principles for leading organizations through brand implementation.
Become known for what you stand for.
Your brand is much more than a logo or what you do. It’s about why you are in business and how you deliver your products and services. When you share your motivations, passions and pursuits, your message has greater meaning. It’s about the culture you create for your team and your customers. When the stories you tell reflect the experience you deliver, your brand shines. If your “brand” is currently just a logo or symbol, consider how you can grow from there.
Stand out from the crowd.
Think about who your audience is. Understand how they go about their decision making with regard to the products and services they desire. Are you meeting or exceeding their needs? Start where they are and develop your delivery.
Consider what your top competitors are doing with their website look and how they are expressing themselves. Look for some core commonalities, and simultaneously prepare to identify where you can innovate and differentiate.
Develop the team culture.
Everyone must be on board to inspire a collective purpose. Does everyone agree what the main thing (mission) is? This is not always easy and you’ll need to consider team members’ interpretations and points of view before you can move forward. It is tough work and efforts to sustain progress are challenging. Do your hiring and onboarding with this culture in mind. Don’t bring on people who could destroy client relationships you spent months or years to cultivate. The least paid people have the most public exposure so invest in their value.
Be patient with your brand.
If you have a multi-million dollar budget then this isn’t as much of a concern. Reality in most agencies is the need to create staff and volunteer buy in, maximize your budget with visual branding and begin hiring those who support and grow your culture. Too often management trots out a new logo and expects employees to jump on board and suddenly do business differently. Remember, branding is more than just a logo.
The brand is the brain. Public relations, advertising, marketing and sales are all extensions of that brain, and they must be coordinated and aligned. The copy, design and language you use must always be based on the brand. Your team members “are” the brand and represent your product with every public interaction. Team members affect the actions of other team members. Empowering every team member to lead anytime, anywhere and from any position is mission critical. Customers must expect consistent delivery of product to before loyalty can be achieved.
Lift up your people.
The brand is more than the company. It is the executive team’s and the individual employees’ personal brands as well. People do business with people. Invest in your team members’ growth by encouraging personal development, certifications or advanced education. Leadership programs in your community, region and state are incredible opportunities for individual development and networking. This culture attracts top recruits and supports buy in from long-time employees.