Red Sky is fortunate to partner with some of the most brilliant, creative minds in Boise. Partner Perspectives is a regular feature highlighting our partners’ observations on the ever-evolving world of communication — everything from what they’ve learned in the past year to what we can expect in the near future. This week, Jane Naillon of See Jane Brand Strategy muses on the need for businesses to define their brand culture to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Considering the evolution of branding in today’s sophisticated and very social world, most savvy business leaders know that brand is more than a logo, and that visual identity is only a small part of the brand experience. These leaders understand their brand goes deeper than visual expression, and that it’s critical to their overall business strategy.
According to brand guru Marty Neumeier, brand is the gut feeling we get when we think of an organization, product or service. He goes on to say: “brand is not what you say it is, it’s what THEY say it is.” It’s true. Your audiences decide what your brand is. While businesses may find this intimidating, there is a lot you can do to help shape your audiences’ perceptions.
FOCUS ON WHAT DIFFERENTIATES YOU
With so many options available, consumers are not making purchasing decisions based on function alone. They also rely on emotion. They want to know if your company’s values align with their own. You have the opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition based not only on the products or services you sell, but also by who you are and what you stand for as an organization.
CLEARLY ARTICULATE YOUR COMPANY VALUES
If your internal team doesn’t understand or talk about your company’s brand or culture the way you intended, it’s not likely your target audiences will perceive the brand the way you would like, either. This process starts with embracing your brand from the inside out. Engage your team to ensure your company is presenting an authentic brand experience internally. Brand = culture; culture = brand.
LEARN FROM OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
Look at Zappos, for example. Their CEO lives in an Airstream trailer. He owns four pairs of shoes. His personal values have clearly influenced how the company operates, and it shows in how his internal team talks about their work. Many employees say they love to work at Zappos so much that they come in on their days off. The authenticity of Zappos’ brand culture is apparent to consumers and the impression has an accurate and positive impact on their audiences.
While Zappos is an example of success, it’s also important to learn from the mistakes of other businesses — such as the recent case of Volkswagen’s “diesel dupe.”
This is a great example of how deviation from your core values can have a wildly negative impact on the success of your company by driving away your customers/audience. [Pun intended].
FOSTER AN AUTHENTIC CULTURE
Brand culture is not just the collective values of the internal team. It should be defined separately from the people that will live it. Clearly, each member of your company will validate and influence what your brand will look like, but they need to be provided guidance on what the brand ultimately stands for — which should be based upon the organization’s brand platform.
DEVELOP A BRAND PLATFORM
A brand platform highlights the guiding principles that differentiate you from competitors and also provides the recommended voice and visuals that will attract supporters, consumers and employees. Your company would not exist without your product or service, but it is your brand culture and how you communicate it that will serve as the driving force in building a loyal tribe.
Once you have built your brand platform and an authentic brand culture, you will have the substance needed to inform all communication, both internally and externally.
To learn more about See Jane Brand Strategy, visit seejanebranding.com.