“Nike isn’t a running-shoe company,” “it is about the idea of transcendence through sports.”
For as along as I've been in business I've been fascinated with understanding why we choose one brand over another, it's also a constant question in every corporate boardroom around the globe, if it isn't then those companies quickly tend to fade into economic history.
When we think about a brand we think in emotional terms, this is because a brand isn't real, it's an intangible thing that we can either relate to or not, if it's the latter it's an extremely big challenge for a brand to sway you towards them.
To a certain extent when we join a company we have some degree of affinity with them, hopefully it's something other than just the paycheck, this could be based on our own personal use of that company or industry, it could be that we're looking to grow and share our own area of expertise with an organisation who we think share a set of mutual values.
One of the key reasons people (employees and customers) leave a company is because the reality of the 'brand' promise doesn't live up to the reality of the experience. So a high employee and customer churn rate is a clear sign that the internal view of the brand is most certainly out of step with the external view.
This in turn creates wasted time, effort, and of course real direct/indirect cost on behalf of the brand, it's employees and customers alike, which is where I tend to spend most of my time during brand re-positioning projects.
However, when a brand is completely aligned both internally and externally this is where we see the magic happen.
Brand alignment isn't a fancy marketing thing, it's focus is making sure that what your brand 'promises' is really delivered and experienced, this also applies to the brand you were born with, which is YOU.
We see too many people and brands trying to be someone, or something they aren't, which leads to confusion for themselves, and lack of authenticity to those around them. For a brand to be authentic you have to look at the culture of that brand and ask the big question 'what's you're story'?
No amount of funds will buy you loyal customers or employees, culture beats branding every day. Culture is what allows your employees and customers to become advocates of what it is your brand says it does, so if you have a broken culture no amount of 'employee advocacy' tactical activity will resonate internally or externally - it's all just wasted effort.
Your employees are an extension of your culture and your brand, if you don't invest and train them how to use their voice on social media it's a reflection on your culture, which inevitably impacts on your brand.
Let me give you one tip in today's social savvy connected world - work more on your personal profile than you ever did on your CV, because this is where potential employers, and yes even those lazy recruiters are going to check out if what you say you are is indeed 'who' you are.
You are your brand, yes it's just an extension of the company your working with today - that might change, but the core of who you are, and why you do what you do don't!
What examples can you give to help a company looking to re-align itself from a culture and brand perspective?