Brand Strategist Scott Talgo says that "A brand that captures your mind gains behavior. A brand that captures your heart gains commitment." Which begs the question: While you may be able to catch 'em, can you keep 'em?
A while back we had a client that no matter how many marketing dollars they threw at their brand or how many new additions they made to their product line, their company could not break through a certain level of profitability. They came to us for help.
At the onset, we were thrilled to be doing business with such a positive group of people and such a positive product line. They had a line of calendars, artwork, office accessories and rec wear that that carried very positive, life-affirming messages on them. The company’s visual look was tight, the products were well executed and the price point right on. We looked at their messaging, which was sound. We had them fill out several in-depth branding analysis about who they were and what their motivations were; about their ideal client and where they wanted to take their brand. Everything “looked” healthy.
We couldn’t figure out the problem until the third and fourth meeting when we met the client after hours to discuss their upcoming marketing plan. At that time, the “true colors” of the client began to surface. It became clear that the three owners of the company were not aligned with the values of their brand . . . nor with one another. While their brand espoused health, inspiration and hope, in person, the owners of the company had little in common with their product.
They talked about their customers poorly; they were loose and fast with their speech and filled the conversation with offensive references and innuendos. Not surprisingly, that once promising company closed its doors that year.
The lesson here?
A new logo, tagline, campaign, or marketing plan will never cure a brand that is not authentic at its core. (Feel free to tweet that!)
The owners were not living their espoused brand, which meant that they could land initial sales with clients based on the appearance of their product but failed to get the reorders as distributors truly got to know them and experience what turned out to be a crippled customer experience.
Your brand is your promise to the public. Break that promise enough times and you’ve got yourself a brand attempt that will get off the ground, sputter, and eventually nosedive.
A great example of living your brand is the company Life is Good. The owners Bert and John Jacobs pursue recreation, health and positive experiences at every turn. Their brand emanates humor, humility and good vibes — as do they. Their product springs from an authentic well. Hence, their longevity, success and band of faithful fans.
And of course, there's the king of brand story Zappos, whose CEO Tony Hsieh (pronounced shay) ensures his company live its brand from the inside out with these 10 core values:
- Deliver WOW Through Service
- Embrace and Drive Change
- Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
- Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
- Pursue Growth and Learning
- Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
- Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
- Do More With Less
- Be Passionate and Determined
- Be Humble
Inspiring, right? Today, more than ever, it’s imperative to live your brand. Technology has ushered us into an age of transparency and authenticity. Both you — and your brand — live in the spotlight. So dive deep, figure it out, and live your core message with passion.
5 Ways to Build Brand Authenticity
1. Know who you are and why you do what you do. Know the values at the core of your brand.
2. Communicate those core values consistently through any communication internally and externally.
3. Hire people who have mad skills but who also embrace and can echo your brand.
4. Get honest. Revisit your core values. If one doesn't fit and is purely aspirational versus practical, whack it until you can live what you promise.
5. Stop trying to win the whole world over. Connect with companies (B2B) and consumers (B2C) who value the components of your brand. Don't morph for to win the sale. Do you.
The days are short and competition is fierce. This year, get focused. Explore and nail down exactly who you are, what you can realistically deliver, and how you want to run your business.