I was recently honored to be hosted by fassforward Consulting Group to conduct a webcast called “Disrupt or Decay”. In the webinar, I spoke about five “natural forces” that are shaping today’s brands. These natural forces are occurring all around brands and are forcing leaders to think and behave in completely different ways than many of them are prepared for. These forces are changing conversations in and around brands.
A frequent question when giving this presentation around the country or in a webcast is: “Where do we start?” Here is the answer!
Start with your beliefs.
Branding is shifting from building external perceptions and chasing market expectations to a more intrinsic approach of simply inviting your audience to believe what you believe.
But here’s the rub…
I’m certain most leaders don’t know what they believe – let alone what their organization stands for. Ask the question “what do you believe?” to any business leader and you are likely to get a moderated, filtered answer like “doing the right thing” or “hire the right people”. It will be rare that you will hear an answer that you could build a brand on or organize a movement around.
To address this lack of clarity and lack of articulation, we take a different approach when engaging with clients on a branding project. We incorporate a process that requires the following elements:
These are the principles, values, etc. that don’t shift under pressure. They are deeply rooted in your personal belief system. You carry them with you regardless of the organization you are leading. You would defend these beliefs with your reputation. You might even sacrifice your career to protect them.
These are your personal habits as a leader that verifies these beliefs to yourself and others. Simply put, these behaviors are how you LIVE what you belief. If you believe in respect, do you treat yourself and others with respect? If you believe in integrity, do you always tell the truth? This ensures that your beliefs are not just esoteric concepts.
If you have beliefs and behaviors, it will affect how others perceive you and your organization. This is ultimately your brand. The emotions you spark, the experiences you generate, the stories that create. All propelled by word-of-mouth, social, etc. by your various audiences of employees, customers and the marketplace.
Take for example, Jessica Alba, celebrity and founder of the Honest Company. In spite of being told she couldn’t make it happen, Alba pushed through because she believed in it. She now has a savvy, sustainable, and socially good company; all behaviors she displays herself. This ultimately propelled her business forward into what it is today.
By building a brand from the root of beliefs, it then produces the fruit of perception. It allows you to harness each of the 5 Natural Forces as an amplifier of these beliefs and a delivery mechanism for your brand.
So what do you believe?
Justin Foster is a Senior Strategist and Social Business Expert at fassforward consulting group. He is the author of “Oatmeal v Bacon: How to Differentiate in a Generic World” and “Human Bacon: How to Create an Awesome Personal Brand”. He blogs and speaks about social business, culture, and innovation. You can follow Justin on Twitter @fosterthinking and LinkedIn.