Branding is an extremely overused word – quickly followed by sentences that include “we need a vision,” “we need a mission” and “we need our values, ASAP!”
Of course, businesses need those things. The challenge with these branding pieces happens when leaders don’t understand what they are by definition, over and above inspirational sentences, what they’re used for other than team motivation, and how to ensure the brand properly reflects what the company is.
In a recent conversation with a client about why they need a vision and mission, it became clear that their goals – things all businesses also need – were being used as a vision. This left their team confused as to why they were striving towards these goals.
Sure, the goals were being met. But the life of the company, how the team acted and collaborated (or didn’t in this case), came down to a misunderstanding of what branding is and how it must be used effectively to grow a company’s culture while stimulating client conversions externally.
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Not uncommon was how this company came to their current vision and mission. It involved a simple 15-minute brainstorming session, throwing words together until they sounded right.
Brainstorming is an important step. However, strategy must come into play once the brainstorming is done.
Three steps help connect branding to your deeper business strategy. Each is crucial to ensure your brand is not just another pretty document to look at but a livable document that moves your company forward.
Process priority a must
To ensure your brand – which includes your vision, mission and values – captures who you are, along with who your customers believe you to be, there are key questions that must be discussed.
This requires dedicated space and time to build the brand, committed individuals responsible for living the brand and an objective facilitator to guide the questions, helping to dig deeper into the answers.
From this session, key pieces are developed, such as vision and mission. But also from this comes your brand goals, tactics to bring the brand to life and examples of how people are to represent the brand.
Review is strategic
Each brand piece plays a different role in relation to your company’s actions, marketing and audience connection. In reviewing an initial piece of the brand, it’s crucial that leaders understand what the piece is for and how it relates to their overall business goals.
A branding specialist provides the proper review tools for leaders to understand what each piece is, where it’s used in their company and larger marketing plan, and how to provide feedback for revisions, if needed.
Again, it falls into a strategic process to ensure your brand is fully aligned internally, externally and sustainably as it continues to evolve.
Connecting purpose with action
The client mentioned above was inadvertently mixing up the brand’s goals and the demonstration of brand with the actual vision they were stating. It removed the purpose of why people were connected to this company and merely spoke to the what. The result was a company culture confused about why they do things.
Gaining this clarity in what the pieces of a brand are and what they’re specifically used for allowed people to reconnect to what they were doing on a daily basis. Their actions changed because they were motivated by a vision that gave purpose and they understood the brand tactics they were using to move toward the company vision.
In addition, the leaders of this company had a better understanding of how to demonstrate their vision and not just speak it.
Companies don’t need to have every single piece created for their brand to be successful. However, it’s important that, once brand pieces are created, they’re used correctly. This starts with leaders understanding how a brand strategy ties into the larger business strategy, in order to demonstrate the brand pieces effectively.
To have an impactful brand, leaders must be committed to it and its strategy to bring the brand to life.
How has your company used brand to be impactful in your overall business strategy? Share your insights and questions with Lindsay. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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