September 19, 2013
In some organizations, branding is thought of as window dressing: It’s seen as superficial and peripheral to the organization’s purpose. In our experience, the opposite is true. We think of branding as an organization’s connective tissue.
When everything you say and do as an organization is driven by a unifying, meaningful and differentiated concept, it can create powerful results. But those who think of brand as simply promotional or attention getting miss the big payoff that strengthening their connective tissue can have.
3 Questions to Strengthen Branding Coherence
Brand is often confused with advertising. But branding is not only a marketing discipline, it’s a management discipline. (As our CEO Philip Durbrow has written, identity is the CEO’s tool.)
Whether they realize it or not, organizations are constantly communicating about themselves through their products and services, new hires, advertising and press releases. Everything you say and do as an organization can and should reinforce a coherent message about you—if you’re thinking about brand as your connective tissue. To achieve this level of branding coherence, ask about any message, behavior, and communication:
- Is there a purpose for the way it’s identified?
- Is there a purpose for its role in the organization?
- Is there clarity about its contribution to the whole versus a separate business plan or identity?
The Dangers of Putting Brand on the Periphery
We’re working with a higher ed client at the moment who is responsible for some of the most cutting-edge research on (and off) the planet. Although they constantly do things that have never before been done, they don’t always get (or take) credit for their innovations, so these breakthroughs don’t add much to public understanding of who they are. They’re not as appreciated as they need to be in the face of increased competition for resources and talent. The lack of understanding about who they are results in lost opportunities. They need to strengthen their connective tissue so that everything about them communicates a clear, compelling, and meaningful story.
When you don’t pay attention to your connective tissue, you can run into a number of problems. Change is scarier. Progress is harder. The basis for making decisions is less secure. Most importantly, there’s a lot of wasted effort. The yield on what you say and do is much lower than the yield would be if there were some central concept for everyone to draw from.
But approach branding as a management discipline—as the connectivity in your organization—and you’ll tap into a strategic advantage you’ve always had, but just haven’t leveraged yet.