Brand is what brand does
What does that mean? It means your brand is defined by what it does, not what it says. There are many different sayings in the world that reflect this truth – ‘Leaders should walk the talk, not just talk the talk.’ Or my favourite, ‘you’re only as good as your last hit record’.
But how does this apply to brand?
Well, your brand at any moment in time is a reflection of the current culture – whether you like it or not. I’m not talking about how you portray yourself to the outside world. I’m talking about the cold, hard truth – when you really look under the skin and reveal who the brand is – in its actions, behaviours and beliefs.
Many a time there is a disconnect between what you say about your brand on the outside and how it is lived on the inside. This can lead to high employee turnover in the first couple years because the reality of the company did not match what they were sold. It can also lead to customer dissatisfaction and erosion of loyalty – they too were oversold a promise that isn’t coming true. Increasingly you see the younger generation scrutinise brands over their purpose. They’re not looking at your CSR agenda. They’re looking at the role you fundamentally play in this world and whether that’s a good thing and if you truly live by it – every single day.
So how do you ensure your brand does what you say?
- First you need to align your brand with your business strategy. Your brand needs to be able to help deliver on your business ambitions, now and in the future.
- Secondly, you need to define and build a culture that delivers on your brand. It should translate your brand from words into clear behaviours.
- Finally, you need to protect and nurture that culture. If you do, then your culture will become your protector and guardian of your brand. If you don’t, the culture will run away from you and you will find a workplace that no longer is aligned to your brand and therefore cannot successfully deliver on your business ambitions. Your business will become hostage to a misaligned culture – setting yourself up for years of frustrations, decreasing morale and probably many brand refreshes and repositioning – all failing to help you move your business forward.
Without a strong brand-led culture, your brand isn’t truly activated across the business. Your brand becomes a set of words on a page, values painted on your wall, pretty pictures and logos that don’t amount to anything – great ideas that never happen.
Brand is what your brand does. So make sure your brand does what you say by building the right culture.