Belief Is Nothing Without Behaviour

by Kim Faulkner & Galen Mendez 12 January 2017

“If your brand is the remit of your marketing team, then your organisation still has it all backwards.”

Brands are ideals. They are shaped by vision; by a unique offering or point of view, and by what you will or won’t do in your respective marketplaces.

Yes, brands should guide communications, and yes, brands inform logos, colours and graphics – but, if that is all you are getting out of your brand programme/refresh/revamp, then you are underleveraging the true impact that your brand can and should have.

BEING PURPOSEFUL ABOUT BRANDING 

Purpose driven branding starts with asking for more –it needs to take into account business strategy; it needs to provide you a way of framing the competition, it needs to help you think about how you are going to be different and most importantly, how you are going to address the needs of your segment. Working out what your brand stands for needs to be both an inward reflection of long-term ambition and a clear evaluation of the landscape you are competing in. 

A purposeful brand (or brand programme, for that matter) should help you see what the opportunity for your organisation is, it should challenge the way you think about who your audience is, and why your services are truly important.

For you to get the most out of your brand, it needs to guide more than communications; it needs to act as an organising principle that cuts across your organisation – from the people you choose to work with, to the customers that form your core, to the way you sell, and the times you walk away from an ‘opportunity’.

WHERE THINGS FALL APART

As one of the most successful and globally renowned management consulting firms, McKinsey upholds their highest standards when it comes to its professional conduct and client selection process. But it does not help when it was recently reported that the firm advised drug manufacturers how to market opioids, including by targeting high-volume prescribers. The report erupted a global backlash, ending with a large $600 million dollar settlement that McKinsey paid across 47 states across America.

If the only thing your brand guides is your marketing and communications, then there will inevitably be a break in what your organisation says it does versus what it actually does. It can be severely damaging to a brand when an organisation's communications are incongruent with their behaviour and decision making.

This is dangerous because consumers continue to seek transparency from businesses and organisations. Consumers now have more power than ever to shape the conversation and call out things they believe aren't right. And because of the heightened scrutiny, more and more companies are starting to bear the consequences of being misaligned in front of the public.

 

HOW THIS AFFECTS BRAND BUILDING 

There is nothing wrong with marketing teams or corporate communications teams triggering a brand review - they are after all required to have an intimate understanding of how your organisation is perceived, and whether or not what you say is an accurate reflection of how you are as a business.

However, for a brand programme to have merit and generate greater value than an advertising fix, it needs to be developed in tandem with the visions, ambitions and goals of decision-makers. It needs to be understood and actionable by the organisations’ executives, managers and front liners. Only then can it really start to permeate what your organisation says about itself, and guide how it should act in the marketplace. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kim has over 30 years of branding, marketing and design experience in Asia and has lectured and written extensively on the subject of branding, strategy development, marketing and design across the region.

Galen revels in the conspiratorial nature of discovering identity, the afterglow of collaborative creativity and the intangible click of people getting it. He also speaks in the third person.