Does your brand have a fear of commitment?

Photo via Wikimedia

We get called on quite often to help organizations understand and commit to who they really are. It isn’t always easy.

There are all kinds of methodologies for brand strategy, but they don’t really differ all that much. It just comes down to understanding what the organization means to its audience and how that can be credibly differentiated from similar offerings. That’s about it.

It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but you’d be amazed how many organizations don’t have a clue what they are really offering, and what it is that their “targets” want. In initial discovery sessions, we often find that leaders on the inside can’t agree what their strengths and weaknesses are, and the people lower down the org chart haven’t been given any direction or vision. This is known, in our industry, as “bad.”

While a brand is ultimately shaped by its interactions with its audiences, lacking a single-minded internal focus prevents you from even presenting your offering with any kind of consistency people will recognize. You need to fix your brand inside before you can fix it outside.

How do you do that? In absence of a single visionary, many organizations try to find consensus among groups of leaders. But branding “by committee” usually results in a very safe and generic idea. Hardly a differentiator.

That’s why an outside consultant is often needed. Watching, listening and challenging, a well-trained outsider can see the big picture through the egos and conflicting agendas. She or he can then give you back a focus of what you actually have going for you, and how you will best present yourself (as well as to who).

It may scare you. It should. If you’re married, do you remember your wedding day? Commitment is terrifying, even when it’s for the best. But when you see yourself reflected in a more inspiring way, you need to embrace it like… (okay, no wedding night metaphors!)

…you need to embrace it fully and in good faith. Then you need to believe it. And get everyone else to, as well. Starting with the people who personify your brand most often — the people on the front lines.

If the brand promise comes from an authentic place, your team should be able to understand it right away. And if they “get” it, so will your customers/clients/stakeholders.

In the end, branding is a very human process. You as a person stand for something in other peoples’ minds. Commit boldly and single-mindedly, and so will your organization.


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