When a organization’s brand underperforms, so does the organization and its stakeholders. What might be responsible for an underperforming brand? Too much emphasis on identity than story. Too much emphasis on reach and frequency than authenticity and consistency. A story that plays it safe. A story that is hijacked as it moves farther from the leader who is the defacto author of the story. A story that isn’t based on a deeply rooted belief system.
How does an organization “be real”? Clarify and articulate why you exist in the first place. Besides making money, what is your purpose? What good are you trying to do in the world? Why does that matter? What’s in it for the rest of us? If you build story around the answers, the story has the power to attract allies to the cause. It’s a call to action that other people, who think like you, have been waiting for. A story rooted in universal truths aligns your plans with your actions. It gives your message consistency. Your ground truth is an under leveraged asset. Your competition can’t replicate it. You can use it as a business driver.
If you want to learn how to clarify and articulate your higher purpose in the form of a compelling story that attracts allies to the cause, coffee is on me.
If the seat of the stool is the story about the difference you make in the world, what are its three supporting legs? One would be your higher purpose. What drives you besides making money? Another would be your vision. What does the world look like when you succeed? The third would be your mission. If your vision paints a picture of a better future state, what are the beliefs and values that guide you there?
Many organization, especially non-profits, rely on mission statements alone. Most of them read like a list of the services they provide with some human resources compliance issues having to do with diversity and community bolted on. Many business mission statements play it safe and come off generic by promising value, a commitment to service and quality, and so on. Things everyone promises. As for higher purpose, that doesn’t even occur to most. Yet, it is an important differentiator to most buyers. Your higher purpose may not even reside in the realm “business” but be something more aspirational or even spiritual. While you may not share it publicly you need to know it, internalize it, and figure out how to imply and signify it.
If this piques your interest and you like to learn more about how to find and articulate your higher purpose and why that matters, coffee is on me.
Branding is like gardening. Find fertile ground, your ground truth, or your higher purpose besides making money. Sometimes you have to amend the soil. In addition to your higher purpose might be a premise or worldview. Plant seeds. This is like your vision of what the world looks like when you succeed. Once the seed is planted, or the vision declared boldly, you’re all in. Tend the garden. Water lovingly and weed ruthlessly and relentlessly. Affirm what supports your purpose and let go of what doesn’t no matter how “business as usual” that may be. Attract pollinators, people who share your values and worldview. Wonderful. Now, reap what you sow.
Contact your most profitable clients and offer to listen to what they have to say about your offerings and your company. From the results you’ll know whether it’s time to repair or nurture the relationship, or if you have the green light to ask for new business.
This week we’re talking to Steve Ziger, a partner at Ziger/Snead, a Baltimore architecture studio with a national reputation for design excellence. Ziger/Snead’s predominantly urban expertise includes work for academic campuses, cultural institutions, non-profit headquarters and community centers, religious spaces, urban redevelopment and mixed-use projects, and custom residential design.