I’ve been involved in a lot of strategic planning sessions lately, and we inevitably discuss brand vision at some point in time. That is, what does the organization want the brand to ultimately be? Something lofty, even noble. As we discuss this, some clients will talk about a vision that is well articulated and congruent with how they are currently operating. Others want their brand to be something that is far different than what it is today (fair enough) and they operate in a manner that isn’t going to get them there (impossible).
When we build brands, we have to use real parts and materials. This isn’t building an ad campaign – those are relatively easy to construct. A brand exists to a great extent, even if there has been no official branding work done yet. And the most important building block of a brand is culture. Culture is how you operate and what you deliver at the point of contact with your customer. It is based on your priorities as an organization. The underlying tone of how you go about your business. You can’t build a brand on being service oriented when your processes are difficult for your clients. You can’t build your brand on your deep expertise when have a bunch of rookies working for you. You can’t have internal meetings about ways to squeeze every penny out of a deal, then go to market as a transparent firm.
You can say whatever you want – in ads, social media, press releases, on your website. But, if your people don’t live that, you won’t deliver it. And you won’t be building the brand that you claim to be. So, if you’ve got a grand vision for your brand, start with identifying and defining your culture and the hard part is out of the way.