Brands and Bone Structure?

blogpic_billMost CEOs think only in terms of developing their brand. They would never imagine “deconstructing” the brand, yet that can be the most vital step in ultimately developing the most compelling brand for their company. Let me explain.

Often brands fail or perform poorly because they weren’t properly formulated from the start. The reason is that CEOs usually leave it to marketers, who simply try to formulate a name or logo that will spark interest and memorability within that market.  They mistakenly focus on the outward facingcosmetics of the brand before addressing the more fundamental aspect of a truly attractive brand—to follow the analogy, the bone structure.

By bone structure, I mean the underlying realities that truly define the company and perpetuate its existence.  These would include history, business model, leadership, growth plans and much more.  These can only be identified through a diligent and incisive process, including a preliminary brand review and a full brand audit. Through this process of “deconstructing”—or pulling apart—the  assumptions that have gone into a brand, we can identify areas that may need reconstructing to more accurately resonate with evolving or new ideas about the business.

The key idea here is that shaping that brand in the market mind begins with shaping it within your own mind.  It’s simply impossible to communicate something clearly and with meaning that isn’t first crystal clear and meaningful to you and your employees.  When there are multiple operating units with different business models and brands within a parent organization—as is often the case in senior living—the complexity increases exponentially.  What is unclear internally translates as disjointed and even chaotic, externally.

We make this deep inward look during the first of several steps in our Brand Engineering™ process.  Only after due diligence in these analytical reviews do we dare to venture into a brand strategy phase, which sets forth the best and most accurate story about your vision, mission and promise.  These elements, in turn, fuel the articulation of your full strategy, including values and personality. These are the bones of your brand, which when properly arranged, can convey a compelling symmetry of value and purpose. They give your brand its enduring strength and structure.

Now, at last, we are ready to translate these elements into your brand story—which includes your name narrative and visual for public consumption. These take us into the exciting cosmetics of naming, narrative and visuals—including your logo, corporate colors, and signage.  From there the stages of brand introduction and brand implementation come into play, respectively. I will examine these in more detail in subsequent posts.  But as you can see, effective brand building is more than skin deep.

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