Branding is impractical, right? It sounds great in theory, but in reality, it’s all vague and touchy-feely. But what if I told you there’s a clear, everyday process you could execute in the next two weeks with your team that will help you become more interesting and remove hypocrisy (when your company says it believes one thing, but acts like it believes another)? That’s what we’ll talk about here.
Most brands are either bland or hypocritical. It’s easy to be indecisive and bland; it takes no commitment, and it’s hard to prove since bland values are non-specific. Hypocrisy actually takes a little more guts. At least you’ve made a claim. But neither one is great when you’re trying to show people what to expect from you and your products.
If you want to overcome either of these situations, you need conversations with people in your company. Socialize it, prove it internally through your actions. And even if you’ve been hypocritical, failing to live out your espoused values in the past, it’s doable. And because that change needs to start with you, people need to see you putting time, money and thought toward these things. So how do you convince people you’re born again, that you’ve changed? They need to see you take steps, spend money and time and reward people that live out those values.
So what’s a hyper-practical way to get this done in your own company?
Start with Your Team
Building a brand that does what it says requires a little commitment. It means honest conversations that don’t take too long. So how do you do an internal audit of how the brand’s doing within your team?
Here’s a quick process:
- Arrange it: Block out some time with your departments. Bring post-it notes and Sharpies.
- The Good: For each company value (or, if you don’t have those, mission and vision), have each department list the top 3 things it does in pursuit of those values. Organize them on a board.
- The Bad: Do it again, but for 3 things that each department does that don’t reflect those values. Organize them on the board.
- Identify issues: Determine which ones are issues by having everyone go through and identify the issues you need to solve. You can’t vote for your own department’s. Rank them 1-3.
- Identify wins: Determine the things you’re most proud of. Determine if there’s a way to use them or build on them.
Turn it into Action
End with a task list with a timeline and a clear system of accountability. For example, do your collection/accounts receivable policies say something your brand doesn’t? This might be more obvious to sales and customer service than it is to accounting. But accounting might be the best team to decide how to execute any changes.
- Who’s the best person to make it happen?
- What do they need to do?
- By when?
- How will you know when it’s done?
Follow up in a Few Months
Do it again in 3 months. Same exercise. Solve issues as they come. If old issues keep arising, make sure you really understand the problem before tackling a solution.
Put Rubber to Road in Brand Execution
Unless your company does what it says it does, values are just words on a wall. This simple exercise will make integrity and values more than a nice idea; they actually become an agenda item. And when your company sees you putting thought and time into living out your values, they’ll know you’re serious, and they may even start taking their own initiative.
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