Part two of three
One real power of a brand is that it serves as a tuning fork for an organization, helping them quicken strategic decisions, vetting new opportunities, and making hard choices when projections are slipping away from the target.
Nothing kills brand value more than short-term revenue focus. When the deafening sirens of Wall Street start signing, listening to the essence of brand can keep a company from wrecking on its own overexcited ambition. Brand is the moral DNA of an organization, and therefore it’s crucial to understand your brand as more than a veneer, as more of an outward expression of who and what the company stands for.
Like bands that lose their sound after scoring a minor hit, companies often get “big head” disorder and inflated egos after hitting their first success tier. These days, musicians often do a better job of knowing what makes a strong brand than companies with multi-million dollar agency contracts and a deep bench of brand managers who have forgotten why they started the venture or joined the firm in the first place.
CEOs would do well to learn from Jack White’s days leading the White Stripes: “Everything from your haircut to your clothes to the type of instrument you play to the melody of a song to the rhythm—they’re all tricks to get people to pay attention to the story. If you just stood up in a crowd and said your story—‘I came home, and this girl I was dating wasn’t there, and I was wondering where she was’—it’s not interesting, but give it a melody, give it a beat, build it all the way up to a haircut. Now people pay attention.”
Jack White intuitively knew how everything works to create a singular impression, an icon. By following this street-smart lesson with rigorous discipline, White created a value-generating entity that tied together the packaging, promotional, placement, and product aspects of his business with a golden thread. Even when he wanted to play with a full band, he started a side project, keeping the White Stripes brand pure.
While I do not expect the accountants of the world to rock too hard, business thrives when momentum builds. The business acts like an organism, like a well-rehearsed band. Their customers turn into fans. Smart branding makes this possibility real.
In the language of business, having a fan club for your brand raises the top line, giving accountants something to rave about.
Stay tuned for part three next week.
If you missed part one, you can see it here.
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Michael Graber is the managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic growth firm based in Memphis, TN and the author of Going Electric. Visit www.southerngrowthstudio.com to learn more and follow @SouthernGrowth