Does Your Brand Define You Or Confine You?
We’ve said this before, and we’re likely to say it again: Your brand is how you reflect your product or service to the world.
That not a genius-level observation. Most 12-year-olds can understand that concept on at least an instinctive level. They want This Device and These Shoes.
They don’t really know why, but they know that society will accept, maybe even admire, them if they possess products from those brands.
Have you ever considered uncoupling yourself from the bullet train that is your brand? Where, really, is it racing to? Or running from?
We’re not suggesting that you drop all the branding efforts you’ve worked so hard to develop. There’s a lot of equity and reputation there. Not to mention, we’d talk ourselves out of a job.
What we are suggesting is that step away from your brand for a minute. Come back to it with fresh eyes. “How do I do that without missing an opportunity to keep pitching my brand?” Here are a few suggestions:
- Spend some quality time with your audiences. This might be having coffee with a few clients or employees and conversing about your industry in broad terms rather than always strategizing. Don’t name it. Don’t objectify it. Just talk, and dream, and create new ways of thinking about things. “Unbranded” time is rare today, yet so important for growth.
- If you feel you must, then formalize and survey your audiences about big picture issues that affect your industry. You might be surprised that their vision and yours aren’t as closely aligned as you thought. Your brand may be about to run off the rails because you’ve defined your track; you’ve nurtured your track; you’ve collected data that support your track; you’ve trained your employees how to operate on your track. But you’ve failed to lift your head up and look at the landscape and the inevitable cliff you’re about to drive off. Your audiences are always surveying the landscape – try letting them help drive your train.
- Retreat from the grid on a regular basis and just daydream, without limits, about your company’s evolution. Instead of asking, “where should we go next?” Ask yourself, “where could we go next?” Innovative solutions rarely come from running the numbers just one more time. Take a breath. Take a walk. Take a vacation. But don’t take your phone.
Rather than living within the confines of your brand, let your business breathe and grow and evolve. Keep your fingers on the pulse of public opinion and use that to guide, but not drive, your thinking.
Define your brand as a way to represent your values, rather than as a way to “stake your claim” within a market. Your people will find you, and value you, and share their experiences with others. This is what authenticity truly looks like.
It doesn’t happen quite as organically as it might sound, though. You still need to be an effective communicator and take advantage of the tools that are available to you. However, you can communicate with finesse rather than a bullhorn. Work with a strategic branding firm that understands your desire for your brand to have staying power and to have the freedom to evolve, rather than simply to exist, within the confines of a brand definition.