I’m going to let you in on one of my favourite secrets.
It’s not really a ‘secret’ secret, but rather one of those things that are often misunderstood.
I really should have made the headline for this piece ‘The secret to building a really great business’ but you probably wouldn’t have clicked. That’s really what we’re talking about here though. It’s that important!
My favourite part about being a Brand Strategist is getting to work with so many different types of businesses. Big ones, small ones, old ones, new ones, in just about every industry you can think of. Over the last twenty years, I’ve noticed a thing or two about what makes the best of these businesses tick, and one thing stands out.
The best businesses understand that their brand is their business.
That’s the secret. The best businesses put their brand strategy at the centre of every decision they make, to the point that they don’t see any distinction between managing their business and managing their brand.
Why doesn’t everyone know this ‘secret’? I am convinced most businesses don’t see brand strategy as being central to their success because they don’t understand what their brand really is, let alone how to use it to their advantage. Getting to the necessary clarity and simplicity around understanding your brand can seem like a lot of effort for many businesses too, which is where a strategic partner like Di Marca can make all the difference.
Before we start working with organisations we often ask their leadership to rank what they see as the most important ingredients for success. The things they more often than not place near the top are ‘our product’ ‘our services’ ‘distribution’ ‘people’ ‘customer experience’ ‘supplier partnerships’ ‘technology’ and ‘pricing’; with ‘brand’ appearing down the list.
I believe this happens because ‘brand’ is the least tangible–and therefore most misunderstood–of these factors, yet it’s actually the one thing that can unify them all together in a powerful way.
A well-considered brand strategy will influence how your business should look, how it should sound, who to hire, who to partner with, the types of products and services to focus on, how to deliver them, who to sell them to, what price to sell them at, where to compete (and where not to as well).
Your brand is your business because it literally touches every part of it.
What do these great businesses know that others don’t?
- Organisations with a ‘brand is business’ mindset are crystal clear about their business objectives and where they are going. They have a clearly articulated winning aspiration and a common purpose that is embraced at every level.
- They have distilled their business objectives into a compelling value proposition that makes it easier to attract the right type of customers through marketing.
- They have a unique or distinctive positioning in the marketplace that sets them apart from competing brands.
- They understand their culture, with clearly articulated values & behaviours that guide and inspire their people to deliver a brand experience that lives up to their promise to the market.
- They know what the core essence of their brand is, a single-minded idea that becomes a filter for all decision making.
Understand your brand, put it to work at the centre of your business, and profit from it.
When everything across the business becomes aligned through the brand–Product Development & Planning, People & Culture, Service & Delivery through to Marketing & Communications–that’s when great things start to happen.
As Wally Ollins put it, “Branding is an altogether higher-order, more holistic concern, nothing less than an organisation principle for practically everything a business or organisation did.”
After the initial investment in developing a brand strategy starting from the inside of the organisation, key decisions about every aspect of business become more efficient. The path forward becomes instantly clearer for everyone; your people become empowered to make the right decisions because they have clarity, and customers and clients find it easier to buy or engage with you (or not) because you become so good at communicating your value clearly to them.
Great branding is the ultimate win/win.