Start the Journey to Claim Your Brand’s “Onlyness”
Your brand is your evidence of distinction. It answers the pivotal question: What is it about your organization – your tangible and intangible makeup – that defines you and your business in an attractive and compelling way?
It’s the mark of your organization that’s so distinctive, special, and unique that you can comfortably place the word ‘only’ in front of your organization’s name and live up to that ‘only’ claim every day.
It means being a company that is crystalline in its brand distinction and positioning, possessing a “brand lens” that all corporate, departmental and individual behavior and decisions are measured against.
In other words, it means that you never do anything outside of your brand, and that you’re passionate about keeping it that way. Key operational directives are always on-brand because your brand itself determines what you will and won’t do. Who you’ll hire, who you’ll promote, how you’ll operate and what you refuse to compromise on.
A great example of a brand-driven organization is the United States Marine Corps. The Marines are globally recognized one of the best brand-driven organizations.
Their brand distinction is articulated through their tagline – The Few, The Proud…The Marines.
The Marines have crafted a brand that is humbly elite, proud and honorable. Staying true to their brand has stood constant – generation after generation. Their brand distinguishes and separates them from the other fine branches of the U. S. armed forces. It mandates that all recruits don’t make the cut. It creates a bond that grows into a brotherhood for life. And their brand inspires a unique esprit de corps. Everything the Marines do, and how they do it, is defined by their brand.
Employees and stakeholders of brand-driven companies are intensely loyal. Customers of brand-driven companies are as well. This is true because they have adopted the brand mentally and emotionally. The 8 stages of the journey we outline today can guide you, helping you elevate your brand position and create sustainable growth and company-wide success.
Steps to Articulate Your Onlyness and Become A More Brand-Driven Business
When your company is beginning the journey to become a powerful, brand-empowered and brand-driven organization, you’ll embark on these progressive steps:
1. Assess Where Your Brand Stands Today
Assess where you are right now with your brand by honestly examining the good, the bad and even the ugly. You must be candid with yourself if you’re going to succeed, elevate and even transform your business through this journey.
You can do this yourself – but know that it’s difficult to do given how close you are to the subject. To fill in gaps or get confirmation of your assessment, you can seek outside professional assistance at this step.
2. Articulating “Who We Are” and “Who We Will Be”
Following your first assessment, you should conduct a formalized ‘Brand Discovery’ process to unearth your compelling and competitive distinction. This is the most difficult step in the process. You must identify what it is that makes your business truly unique and distinctive at such a high-level that is both compelling and provable.
Once your assessment and discovery are completed, you must determine how you’re going to powerfully articulate your distinction in visuals, in words, and in your brand positioning. We collectively call this a company’s ‘Brand Voice’.
3. Address and Update Your Brand Touchpoints
Moving forward in the process, your business must address its fundamental Touchpoints. These must be elevated and prioritized to streamline and execute the communication of the new brand positioning and promise. Touchpoints are the places that your employees, consumers and advocates interact with your brand.
Fundamental touchpoints normally include your company’s website (which has to be revised to be on brand); branded corporate image group components like business cards, letterhead, and envelopes; essential sales support collateral, and essential internal communication vehicles and platforms, (like department meeting signage and PowerPoint templates).
4. Assign an Internal Brand Adoption Team
Establish a Brand Adoption momentum team to lead your company through its internal adoption process. A top leader should be assigned the role of brand champion who holds the responsibility of leading the momentum team and keeping them accountable for internal brand adoption.
This team must be empowered to accomplish the mission by ownership and top leadership. Team participation and commitment must be considered as a component of their primary duties – not secondary. That means that optional attendance or participation is not acceptable.
Establish at the beginning that this team is essential; the brand adoption team plays a critical role in creating a consistent, empowered and driven brand experience in your organization.
5. Prioritize Your Plan to Share the Brand Internally
After putting your momentum team together, the next step is to do a thorough brand touchpoint analysis. This analysis will identify and prioritize of the touchpoints that carry the quickest and biggest potential for brand impact. Consider your touchpoints, knowing that employees adopt brand changes in these three stages:
- First, by continually hearing the brand distinction and its promise.
- Secondly, by believing the brand is true and real (and not just another company marketing exercise that will come and go).
- Eventually, becoming the brand emotionally and behaviorally.
The prioritized touchpoints set the stage for first developing the internal brand adoption strategic plan, then later, then external.
6. Craft External Communication After Internal Adoption
As the execution of the internal adoption plan generates traction and results, the momentum team will collaborate with sales and marketing to develop the external brand adoption strategic plan.
7. Maintain Your Brand and Continue the Journey
Your top leadership and the momentum team are charged with, and held accountable for, achieving brand momentum and sustainability. Establishing goals, checkpoints and consistency for the brand should remain a priority. Getting up and running is at least a 2-to-3-year effort. Remember: becoming brand-driven is an initiative – not a project.
8. Measure the ROI of Your Initiative
A brand-driven organization is never done with this important work. It is a sustaining and growing commitment that transforms and propels your business to great heights and prosperity. Measure your brand-driven initiatives through both qualitative and quantitative metrics.
How to Measure the ROI of Your Brand-Driven Initiatives
Once your company has assessed, articulated and adopted your brand identity, the next stage is to conduct ongoing measurement of its effectiveness. Here are some qualitative and quantitative tactics to report on your efforts.
Qualitatively, Through Strong Leadership:
Your business needs to put mechanisms and strategies in place to observe and garnish continual feedback on how the business is progressing in its brand development and adoption journey.
For the Management Level:
Usually, this begins with tasking management to implement processes and protocols to observe how middle-management and their reports are progressing through the “hearing it – believing it – becoming it” progression.
Department leaders should apply the standards and principles defined in the brand and hold their team members accountable to those standards. These brand standards and principles should permeate employees’ reviews and evaluation sessions.
The master brand should be present in recruitment, onboarding, training, promotions, raises and bonuses. On the reverse side, the brand should also be a guiding light for warnings and terminations.
Department leaders must continually convey that both the tangible and heart-side elements of the company’s master brand are considered paramount by the company and its top leadership. Walking the walk is essential for individual recognition and advancement within the organization.
For Top Leadership:
Top leadership should also do a practice known as “Rounding”. Rounding requires you to regularly circulate among your employee workspaces and sincerely engage with staff, management and employees to get a pulse on how things are advancing in regard to brand adoption.
Leaders in your company who are held accountable for its performance are now also charged with inspiring teams to adopt your company’s master brand – embracing it and projecting it in the ways they speak, walk, think and lead.
Simon Sinek, famously known for his book “Start With Why” and his TED talk with his concept of The Golden Circle, quoted this insight: “Managers get people to do things that they don’t want to do. Leaders get people to do things that they didn’t think they could do”.
Through conscientious action, your efforts will lead to unsolicited brand behavior and brand speak throughout your organization – at all levels.
Quantitatively measuring the ROI of brand development work and marketing efforts are notoriously challenging.
Recently, a new innovative assessment tool has become available –– the PRETIUM METHOD™. It is constructed from an ISO 10668 standard which can allow your company to quantitatively measure the value of its hidden, brand-related assets.
This tool establishes a baseline measurement that can later be used to quantitatively measure your company’s brand-development performance and ROI in roughly a year from initial implementation.
In Short: The Stronger Your Brand, The Stronger Your Business
Brand-driven companies tend to dominate their competitive category. That strategic advantage translates directly to profitability and prosperity of the bottom line.
The brand development work you do gives you this advantage – bringing clarity and focus that result in operational and cost efficiencies and streamlining.
- The ability to attract and retain top talent, customers and followers like a magnet.
- Brand-driven organizations possess the strongest cultures that drives performance and excellence through its esprit de-corps and vibe.
- Brand-driven organizations weather the storms, because they have a guiding light. They sustain, grow and thrive.
- Brand-driven organizations command the greatest loyalty, the highest profits, and the top prize – sustained profitable growth (the key word being ‘sustained’).
- They win the lion’s share of their competitive battles.
- They garnish the highest company value and worth.
- Some even rise to making their competition irrelevant! They are the companies setting the standards and raising the bar.
Truly brand-driven companies possess a competitively dominant strength, even if they are not the biggest in their competitive field. They frequently hold the lead position in their competitive market space (even if that space is a small vertical or regional one).
The journey to develop a stand-apart, brand-driven organization, allows you to empower greater achievement for your company, your employees and everyone your brand serves. In taking on this work, you will craft a guiding light – showing your company’s path, its strength and its ongoing potential to anyone who experiences it.
Certified Brand Strategist, Pretium Method™ Specialist
President, Ignite LLC
Richard Gripp is a successful strategic facilitator and corporate executive mentor.
An accomplished business owner and leader, entrepreneur, and speaker, Richard has served a wide range of businesses from local to large enterprises .
He has a deep understanding of business gained from over 40+ years of experience in marketing, sales, and leadership.
Richard‘s purpose is to see companies – and people – become empowered through brand-driven practices propelling them to grow, achieve, estimate and thrive.
One of only a few Certified Brand Strategists in the country, as well as a Pretium Method™ Specialist, Richard understands the transformational power of a master brand and its intangible assets –– as well as the value they represent.
Brand driven organizations inspire, compel, and create powerful ripple effects that benefit those they touch. This truth has inspired and moved Richard to speak, mentor, and do the work that he does today.
Active in public speaking, non-profit social work, and community citizenship, Richard has recently served as: a supporter and advisor for the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission, a board/committee member for the Fort Wayne Center for Learning, an advisor and board member for the Philharmonic Youth Symphonies, and an advisor for Fort Wayne SCORE.