There is a lot of advice out there about branding yourself, your business, and a combination of the two. Whatever you choose, you do not just have to communicate that brand publicly. You must also articulate your brand within your own organization.
Without internal fidelity a brand falls apart. What people don’t understand is that brand is the skin of a company. A brand conveys an essence. It is an access point like the human face. It’s where we go to understand one another. It summarizes, reduces, and simplifies the complex inter-workings of people and process into something both understandable and meaningful.
BUT as with the face, a brand is totally shapeless without internal bones, fats, and muscles. This article addresses internal integrity, and how to produce a shapely brand. The first steps to articulating your brand internally is self-discovery.
Consider why you do what you do? There are many possible reasons and some are more interesting than others. But don’t worry, just be honest. After you’ve gained some understanding about why you do what you do, then decide if that is meaningful to you. If not, still don’t panic, but before you continue you ought to decide what would be meaningful.
Making your work meaningful is not just important for your brand, it’s important for you. Unhappy people do work they have to. Happy people do work they enjoy. And the happiest people do work they feel called to do. The more meaning you can get out of your work, the happier you’ll be. Much of your work’s meaning is a result of how you choose to view it. Essentially, even to yourself, it’s your brand that makes your work meaningful. So when we talk about communicating your brand, we’re talking about giving it a reason.
Hire people who fit your brand
The next step to communicating your brand is hiring people who feel compelled by similar motivations. While it is possible to teach “brand morality”—or to teach people to share your values—it is much easier to find people who are already motivated by your company’s values.
To promote internal fidelity, make your brand part of the interview process. Find specific questions that capture your brand. But know that company values are not necessarily synonymous with company culture. So don’t feel the need to hire a bunch of self-replicas.
Of course, internal fidelity goes far beyond hiring the right people. Once you’ve hired someone, you will need to provide a way for them to learn your brand. Brand education should be an important part of the work environment.
Establish brand rituals
Which leads us to the next step to articulating brand identity: establishing brand rituals. Rituals are corporal methods that reinforce abstract ideals. While most people associate rituals exclusively with religions, the truth is we all participate in rituals. Perhaps the most obvious is our bedtime rituals. We brush our teeth, dim the lights, and maybe read a book. While everyone’s is different, our rituals help to bring closure to the day and prepare us to have a peaceful rest.
There are many other rituals including hand shaking, farewell occasions, and meal time rituals. In businesses, coffee in the mornings and casual Fridays are almost ubiquitous.
The healthiest marriages also establish daily rituals. A simple example we have all seen is the way a couple kisses when they reunite. These sort of expected and standard activities help to structure your day and are important for establishing healthy life styles and relationships. They are equally important to your business. Some companies have happy hour, others share a Thursday lunch, and some have regimented meetings.
Here are three great examples of unique company rituals that reinforce brand identity:
- To encourage creativity google used to allow its employees to dedicate 20% of their time to any task they wanted.
- Grey New York has institute a “Heroic Failure” award. This is an award that is meant to encourage employees to make mistakes so that they will be willing to take daring risks even if they will most likely fail.
- Some businesses create time saving rituals. For example they might regulate when and how often they check their email so they are not perpetually distracted by new messages.
There are of course many other possible examples. Consider what elements of your brand are the most important. Then create a ritual that will help reinforce that value. As an example, let’s say you’ve chosen that innovation is one of your key values. Now consider what routine would encourage innovation.
The last suggestion we have is to focus on leading by example. If your brand has accurately capture your vision then seek to be true to that vision. If your brand is about exactitude, try to find ways to be more exact at work. If your brand is about accountability, build ways to keep yourself accountable. If your brand is about creativity, then find ways to inspire and direct creative outlet for yourself.
The secret to branding is intentionality. Successful people are not necessarily the smartest people. They are the people who can create a system to accomplish the task they’ve set for themselves. If brand is what you want to accomplish, you will need to build a framework that reinforces your vision.