Shine a Light on Your Brand

Effective branding highlights all the great things that already exist within your brand.

Diana Lillicrap 4.30.19

The good news about branding is that you don’t have to create something new or clever to be effective. Your secret sauce already exists. You just need to examine your brand closely to uncover the things that make you great, and an authentic purpose will shine bright.

The link between purpose and brand

We all know authentic brands perform better. That’s because consumers are savvy and recognize when a brand is what it says it is (or isn’t). Also, there’s a reason your brand exists. It serves a purpose in the world or it would have died off long ago. You just need to uncover that purpose and communicate it clearly.

If your purpose is clear, branding becomes much easier. But surprisingly, many organizations are not clear on their true purpose. They get stuck in the rut of doing the work they do and thinking about themselves as providers of products and services. If there’s no real focus on purpose—the reason you exist and why it matters to the world—you can quickly become a commodity that can be replaced by another product or service company.

How do you go about shining a light on your great parts and uncovering your purpose? Here are a few steps that will help you get clarity.

Ask your customers

Your customers know why they chose you over another option. To find out their reasons, you just need to ask. A simple qualitative research study can give you lots of input on the purpose you serve in the world. Consider doing an easy online survey or series of phone interviews with current and past customers. Remember to keep it open ended, allowing customers to use their own words to describe why they chose you, what they love about you, and what it feels like to work with you.

Audit the marketplace

Looking at your competitive set and the state of the market may help you see where you are alike and, more importantly, where you are truly different from other similar options that customers have. Be objective in your review and look for more than just the “what” of your work. Remember, your purpose isn’t the widgets you sell. Those may be the tangible deliverables you can easily see, but how you work, the emotional connections you create with customers, and the unique way you deliver on your promises are always more closely tied to the real reasons customers pick you. The same is true about your competitors. They serve their own purpose in the world. You just need to get clear on how what you do is different from them.

Reflect internally

Once you have input from the outside world, it’s time to look inside to your people and your culture. Gather representation from multiple employees in different areas of the company by conducting an employee survey or series of focus groups. Again, let employees use their own words to tell you what’s so great about the work they do. Ask them what makes them proud about their work, what a customer would lose if they didn’t work with your company, and what inspires them to do great work. You’ll likely start to see some consistent themes that reveal the culture of the organization.

Build consensus on your results

Make sure you engage leadership in this process as well. Company culture stems from the top. Consider organizing an ideation session with top leaders and key representatives from various areas of the business. Use your time to dive deep into the brand purpose and what value you provide to the world. Highlight all the great things you’ve discovered about your brand. Share what you’ve learned during your external reviews and list out your points of difference to other brands in your category. The session should help you spotlight the best parts of your brand and allow you to build consensus with internal leaders about your real brand purpose.

Once you have illuminated all the great parts of your brand and figured out your clear purpose, the creative way you communicate your brand gets much easier. And it becomes much more powerful, because it’s authentic—it’s a spotlight on your true self.

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Use this brainstorming exercise to clarify what matters to customers.

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