Brand, Relevance and Reputation
I want to try and wrap up 4 areas of discussion on this site into something simple, powerful and coherent that I hope you will find useful at both a personal and business level. To help you navigate the site I have included hyperlinks to the relevant posts.
- I have discussed brand and brand values, both personal and for businesses.
- I have explained the need to stand out from the crowd, to be positively discriminated with respect to the ‘me too’s again from both personal and business perspectives
- I have written about leveraging reputation for growth, again this can be applied at a personal level and for business
- I have discussed change and how nothing stands still and that the alternative to active control leading to growth is passive submission leading to decline.
The point is that personal success and success in business are inherently similar. A business is effectively a collection of people working to a common agenda, remember people make your business succeed and the only challenge is achieving alignment such that the business or enterprise operates as one, UniTeam.
So its all about:
- BRAND – the brand values and identity you use to hook into your customers
- RELEVANCE – you or your products and services need to fulfil a customer need and you need to ‘stand out’
- REPUTATION – the value or benefits that you, or your products and services have delivered to others
Simply the organisation or persons external identity, the way it or they are perceived. Brand marketing for companies is generally positioning something in the customers mind that goes beyond the product or the service, it creates a pull that goes beyond need through want to desire or even whim. Branding is immensely powerful, get it wrong and great products and services may simply not sell, get it right and even nominal product may outsell others without any feature discrimination.
This is simply how well the persons skills or the companies products and services meet the needs of the customer. This is built up from experience and legacy products and services to produce an offering or portfolio of offerings that can really help deliver benefit to the customer by fulfilling needs, wants, desires or whims.
People tend to perform due diligence before employing someone or buying products and services from a company. They seek references and reviews. They look to see that benefits have been delivered to other similar customers so that they can have confidence that a similar benefit may be derived by them. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about a film or a hotel review, a personal reference, a road test of a car, or a product comparison. People want to de-risk their decision to go with you.
The Wheel – A metaphor for change
Nobody knows for sure but the wheel was probably invented about 5,500 years ago and interestingly it is a tool for change. It has enabled man to move materials for building, transport food and to explore our world. The moon buggy even allowed astronauts to cruise around on the moon’s surface.
The very nature of the wheel symbolises change, change in position, direction and fortune. If we take Brand, Relevance and Reputation and place them in a wheel you can see that they are mutually supportive, a kind of virtuous circle.
I have already said that you can think of this at the business level or at a personal level. Now let us consider a generic business at three levels:
- the company external level – the customer’s perspective
- the board – the C-Suite, the people that are in control of the direction of the business both internal and external facing
- the workforce – the people that make the company what it is, design and build the products or deliver the services
I hope that it now becomes clear that there needs to be alignment or congruency from top to bottom and from bottom to top.
From the outside customers should be able to see and align to the brand values of the organisation.
From the inside employees will be motivated to give their maximum contribution by seeing that their personal brand, relevance and reputation is part of the buildup of the way that the company is perceived. The levels of the board and workforce define the company culture and the internal values should be completely consistent with the brand values.
There needs to be a common DNA.
How do you create alignment?
Creating alignment requires the board to act harmoniously and to work collaboratively. Remember as leaders you are constantly monitored by the workforce. A board that exhibits hostility, competing ideas and backbiting will not deliver the best for the shareholders and will be regarded by the workforce as they way the company works. This will knock on to the customers perception, reputation and will affect sales and business performance.
The board needs to define and communicate the strategy of the business in clear, consistent terms that makes it ‘relevant’ for the workforce. The strategy and the company’s brand values need to be congruent.
The company values, recruitment and staff development processes should ensure that your workforce is made up of ‘performers’ people who have a reputation for delivery. The organisational structure should also ensure that the workforce is relevant and the communication of the strategy and plan must be absolutely consistent with it.
- Communicate a strategy and plan relevant to all
- Ensure company values and staff development reward the kind of people you need
- Ensure that the organisation supports the strategy and plan.
Nothing Stands Still
We have no choice but to embrace change the virtuous circle or wheel of Brand, Relevance and Reputation allows you as a person or a business to move forward, to move from the present to the future along a course prescribed by your plan to a destination nominated in your strategy.
Even doing nothing produces change, if we do not maintain a garden it will become overgrown, if we do not develop our knowledge we become stale and if we do not develop a business it goes into decline and it goes slowly at first and then very very quickly. It’s all about the difference between perception and reality.
People and businesses tend to minimise major decisions. They tend to follow patterns of accepted or expected change so to avoid a ‘me too’ response it is important to pause and take aim.