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

When Standard Chartered was accused of circumventing US sanctions and scheming with Iranian organisations to launder £250 billion (bbc), the fallout was all the worse as the bank had adopted the position of being 'Here for Good'. Communications put forward espoused an organisation with a strong moral compass and one that shaped the culture and purpose of the organisation; Behaviour and decisions adopted by senior management and implemented throughout the organisation begged to differ. This conflict of who they said they were and what they were accused of doing became a huge unravelling point for the organisation - both externally and internally.

For brands to be purposeful, they must guide behaviour and decision making - 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.

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.