Today was a good day as I had just finished a brand alignment workshop with a key client. After nearly 5 months, it was now time to put things into action. As a consultant there is always an air of apprehension as to how the team will receive the brand and will they understand the brand enough to apply it across the organisation to begin building a brand centric culture rather than an organisation led culture. But they passed with flying colours, able to grasp the core of the brand and how they would like to align it internally.
For a brand to succeed, you have to have the right people on the bus. What do we mean by the right people, well that really depends on your brand. Which is why branding is important for culture building.
Founders, owners, senior management, all of you are responsible for the creation of the brand. You need to know what type of brand you want to be.
The easiest question to ask yourself is, if this brand was a human being, how would you describe it. What type of personality would it have? Is it a he or a she? Answering this will give you markers in creating the brand. Let me give you a simplistic example, if you want your brand to be fun and zany like Zappos yet still churn out profits, then you hire people to fit i.e. people that can most importantly take fun and zany. Chances are people with no sense of humour need not apply. But because you also want profits, you probably need to look for someone who is dedicated and works hard. So now you have 4 criteria of hire, fun, zany, hardworking and dedicated.
Alternatively, if you are a 6 star boutique hotel, crazy and zany may not be your cup of tea but professional and elegant is. So you need to hire people that are service and customer focussed in a manner that will satisfy your high-end customers. You will definitely not hire someone whose idea of dressing up is to put on covered shoes with his jeans and t-shirt.
Knowing what your brand is all about will also help you decide your internal and external designs, e.g. you don’t design a primary colour palette of greys and blues for a fun and zany place and you don’t choose a fuschia and orange for a 6 star hotel that is elegant and professional.
Next, if you say that you are fun and zany, then you would also want to look for people who are a creative and a bit unconventional. But if you hire creative and unconventional, you must in turn be able to accept critique, be questioned or even challenged as a leader. If you do not appreciate these behaviours, then you really don’t want a fun and zany brand in a holistic sense, but you actually want a serious brand that is managed top down. Actually, when you really get down to the core, you will find that you don’t want a brand at all but you actually want an organisation with obedient people that will give you the numbers.
So before you even think about branding, you must ask yourself, am I or is my team, ready to embrace change, handle critique, think different and be challenged emotionally. If the answer is yes, start gathering your team and ideate away on the kind of brand you want to be – a cross between apple and coke, or starbucks and nike? If the answer is no, then there is really nothing to worry about except your bottom line and perhaps the sustainability of your organisation when you begin to have brand-centric competitors all eyeing for the same pool of talent of very brand-centric Gen Ys and Millenials.