Branding is a leadership issue, not a marketing concept
Your brand is not something you add to your business, it’s the reason your business exists. Your brand is the purpose and passion that propels everything your company does. And the questions that sit around great branding are:
Where are you taking this business? (Vision)
What sort of legacy do you want to leave? (Reputation)
Why should people love working for you? (Culture)
Why should people love doing business with you? (Ethics)
Why should people love buying from you? (Promise)
Why do you exist? (Purpose)
The Head of Marketing does NOT know the answers to these questions. It’s a conversation with the CEO and his or her leadership team.
And once articulated, your brand needs to happen on the inside FIRST, among your people and stakeholders, and then on the outside, in the marketplace. That’s because a brand promise is a promise made (on the outside) and a promise kept (on the inside).
Brand consultants don’t know what branding is
Brand consultants just don’t get this AT ALL. Branding is still primarily thought of as the logo, the brand identity and assets, the BIG idea, and the associated brand marketing activities. It still sits in the Marketing Department and has little connection with company culture and employees. Branding courses still teach branding as a marketing tool, covering topics such as brand planning, brand targeting, brand positioning, and brand architecture (not mine, I might add).
What about the brand purpose, vision, mission, and values? What about a succinct and compelling description of Who we are, What we do, and How we do it? These are the pillars that set up every organisation and business as a power brand, of which their products and services are a critical part (but only a part).
Who’s the brand owner of the marketing brands?
Knowing how to brand a product or a service is important, no doubt, but MORE important is knowing how to brand the organisation, company or business who owns and sits behind those products and services.
What do the brand owners stand for? What’s their contribution to the world, to society, and to their employees? What’s their commitment to how they do business, how they hire new staff, and how they engage their employees? After all, companies don’t make things happen, employees do. Are they just churning out nicely branded products and services to pay their rent and electricity bill, or are they driven by and personally committed to a larger brand purpose that’s having an impact on society and lives?
Without knowing or defining the brand owners’ brand, you have nothing but a false illusion: a well branded product or a service that promises you the world, backed up with little to nothing (perhaps they have a Vision statement on the wall behind their reception desk).
Branding has entered a new era, and it’s time to wake up
Branding is so much more than marketing, and it’s time for brand consultants to recognise this. The “Strength of Purpose” study of 75 companies and brands (commissioned by New York-based Zeno Group) found that when consumers think a brand has a strong purpose, they are:
- 4 times more likely to purchase from the company
- 6 times more likely to protect the company in the event of a misstep or public criticism
- 4.5 times more likely to champion the company and recommend it to friends and family
- 4.1 times more likely to trust the company
They also found that globally, 94% of consumers said it is important that the companies they engage with have a strong purpose, and 83% said companies should only earn a profit if they also deliver a positive impact.
I have always asserted that great brands must play a positive role in society and in people’s lives, and clearly this is now a growing expectation (especially, it seems, in this post-Covid era). It’s a conversation that starts with the CEO and her/his Executive Team, and a journey that starts on the inside of the organisation, company or business, with their employees. Only then do you brand your products and services, as an expression of who you are and what you stand for. And that’s when the Marketing Department gets involved.
Wake up and smell the roses guys!!