When working with clients we always refer to their businesses as brands. Occasionally, a smaller company will feel that they aren’t of a sufficient size to justify the term but come around when we explain that anyone with $50 can go to the Secretary of State’s office and register a new company. Not everyone can build a brand. It takes deliberate, positive actions to evoke feelings and elicit responses from an audience. Referring to the business as a brand gives it permission to dream bigger and grow into their dreams.
On a recent client engagement, however, we banished the word “brand” from our language completely. No longer was it used in presentations, projects or conversations. This particular company had undergone brand strategy exercises in the past and had “built their brand”. The challenge we discovered was a common one. Many of the employees viewed “the brand” as a project that belonged to marketing, not to them. No-one made the connection between challenges with growth and the brand. Growth would surely come from one area of the building and brand another, right?
The client summed it up best for us by astutely identifying that for years, the company had been on two separate and distinctive tracks: the business and the brand. They had rarely met.
To achieve the goals set out for the company, it was clear that we could no longer refer to the work we were doing as brand strategy work. Instead, the two tracks would need to converge and become the business strategy. The result? Immediate understanding of the importance of the work we are helping them undertake.
While Robert Frost may have chosen the road less traveled when he found the roads diverging in the wood, we went a step further and converged the roads instead. For this client at least Brand begone!
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Barry Chandler is the co-founder of Storyforge, a brand strategy company focused on helping companies discover their purpose to allow them achieve their vision, build preference and drive margin. Barry has been building award-winning businesses since launching his first company in Ireland in 2003. His last company, a digital marketing agency, was acquired in 2012 by a California-based publicly traded entertainment company which then hired him as Chief Marketing Officer. It is his belief that the greatest brands seek to change the world, improving the lives of their associates, partners and customers.