|Brand drives everything. Really. Everything.
Core values, vision, mission, marketing, advertising, colors, messages, logos, slogans, website design, font choice, communications (Between departments, individuals, non-verbal and to customers), strategy, purpose, the corporate or personal ‘why’ statement, brand storytelling, emotional intelligence, differentiation within the markets, executive presence and on and on --- brand drives everything. Every single decision.
Why should you or your company care? If you don’t care you will probably not exist in 5 years.
Since brand drives culture, and the two must be fused, there is no hope of success for either individuals or corporations if the brand isn’t clearly communicated – and more importantly, shown by all leadership.
- You have competition. Perceived or real. Protect yourself and always be prepared.
- You have a purpose. Live it. If people don’t know you, and your ‘why,’ you may never reach your purpose.
- Companies without brand driving them and their decisions will eventually collapse and lose their best people.
- If employees can’t tell you what the brand is; you’re losing on all fronts.
- “A Journal of Brand Management paper shows that four in 10 employees struggle to describe their organization’s brand or how they think customers feel their organization is different from competitors. Brand consultancy Tenet Partners reports that only 28% of employees strongly agree that they know their company’s brand values, and that only one in five employees strongly agrees that company leaders communicate how employees should out the brand values in their jobs.” (Click here to read the entire article)
Don’t believe me? Ask Jeff Bezos. He reminds everyone that Amazon is staying committed to the core values they set at the inception of the company – He says, "This year marks the 20th anniversary of our first shareholder letter, and our core values and approach remain unchanged." He is steadfast to the culture – through good times and bad --- and 20 years later he is #winning.
Remember the Johnson & Johnson Tylenol disaster? People thought they would never recover and said the Tylenol brand was dead – after defying all the crisis advisors, they recalled every Tylenol product on the market costing them $100m to do so. They not only survived, they thrived. How? The Credo Challenge. If you don’t know the entire story – look it up here and here. One of the many brand hero moments of this story revolves around James Burke. He flew to DC to meet with the FBI and FDA who strongly suggested they limit the recall to only Chicago. Burke and his team ignored the advice of both agencies – WHY? THE CREDO. ‘We believe our first responsibility is to doctors, nurses and patients; to mother and fathers and all others who use our products and services.’ They knew who they were, what they stood for and made the right decision even though it was the hardest decision – transparency, authenticity and integrity. Always a winning combination. The 311 words of the credo was the (brand) filter for all their thinking as they had to make some tough choices. When hearts and minds of all people are aligned behind one brand and have a consistent culture; decisions, regardless of how hard, are actually easy to make.
- Great leaders are clear about culture. They model it, speak it, redefine it and don’t allow employees to ambush it. Most leaders believe their people know the culture and know the company or business priorities. Inc. magazine asked executives at 600 companies to ask their workforce to name the company’s top 3 priorities. They thought about 64% would know what they were – they were more than surprised when they found out that only 2% could name them.
- What does this mean? Stop assuming your people know your priorities, brand and culture expectations.
Southwest told their consultants ‘no’ when they recommended charging for baggage. They said they would lose out on millions and millions of dollars – Southwest has found other revenue-raising opportunities while sticking to their brand and their promises. Why does this matter? They make hard decisions easy because they use their brand as a filter. Do you? Does your company?
Culture communication is not a fluffy topic anymore – without this, failure will happen, people will leave, departments will fight, messages will be unclear, and the organization or business will never reach its full potential. Good is the enemy of great – just because you are doing well, doesn’t mean you can’t do better!
If your employees or community can’t trust you to be who you say you are – you are not a brand, you are simply a product or service that will never reach its full potential. Brand drives everything.