Know Who You Are Before You Hire a Brand Development Agency
Would you put a fresh coat of paint on a car that needed a rebuilt transmission and a new engine? Even if you were dealing with a vintage classic, wouldn’t it make sense to worry about the work under the hood before thinking about paint?
Business branding is something like that. Don’t get me wrong: Building a strong brand is an essential part of growth. But if the company is running on mismatched parts, worn out gears, and broken axles, its chances of success go way down even if it has a flashy public face.
Develop internally before branding externally
By now the importance of authenticity in branding has become a business cliché. Every business media outlet and management guru—from Forbes to Tony Robbins—urges businesses to focus on designing a brand strategy to be a reflection of who they really are.
The tricky part, then, is knowing the authentic character of a business well enough to design a brand around it.
Developing a good understanding of who you are as a business may sound simple, but for many companies it is anything but. The real personality of a business can’t be invented. It arises from the dynamic mix of personalities within the team, how the business interacts with its customers and clients, and the company’s place within the broader business culture.
Discovering your business’s identity needs to be a deliberate process. Scattered conversations or the arbitrary decisions of one or two leaders likely will miss important elements. If a brand is built on a haphazardly constructed identity, it won’t ring true.
EOS® leads businesses to who they are
The Entrepreneurial Operating System® is all about providing businesses with the tools they need to clearly identify who they are.
One of my clients happens to be in the branding business. They’ve told me several times that when a new client comes to them without a good sense of who they are, their work is much harder. Companies like that want to put the cart before the horse, by choosing what they want their brand to look like without first knowing what their brand should look like.
They’ve said to me, “A company that has a clear vision is easy to help.”
The first few months of the EOS Process® culminate in two days of Vision Building™. For two days—long, intense days—the company’s leadership team drills into the question of who they are as a business.
EOS departs from some other business methods by putting Vision Building at the end of implementation. At one of my client’s Focus Day™ meetings, a savvy student of business expressed concern that we were not starting with vision, but instead concentrating on laying out the company’s Accountability Chart and defining the roles the business needed to operate. The theory he’d learned in business school would put vision first.
There’s a practical side to organizing the Focus Day in this way. For one thing, the Accountability Chart helps everyone in the room begin to think in a new way about how they fit into the business, and how the different parts of the business fit together. Every client I’ve worked with has revised their Accountability Chart again and again. By the time they get to their first Vision Building day, the chart provides a foundation for exploring the question, “Who are we?”
When I told the skeptical MBA grad to trust the process at his Focus Day, I could tell he wasn’t convinced. But by the end of his company’s second Vision Building day, he said it all made sense. Everyone at the table could see and shape the big picture while also clearly understanding their role within it. That holistic perspective provided the foundation for studying their identity.
How EOS fits into brand strategy
During the Vision Building process, an EOS company reduces the complex mix of ideas in each leader’s head into a set of actionable business identity.
A marketing firm I work with had struggled for years with efficiency. Going into their Vision Building days, they’d identified issues with their service process, but they didn’t have a clear sense yet of how they’d solve them. During their Vision Building exercises, they studied the characteristics of their ideal client, which helped them recognize that many of their inefficiencies were coming out of having a mix of clients that weren’t naturally aligned with who they were as a business. The result was a shift of sales focus toward companies that would be ideal clients.
In other words, they’d figured out a key part of their brand.
In my career of business leadership, and in my work as a Professional EOS® Implementer, I’ve learned to appreciate the work branding agencies do. It’s not easy, and in these turbulent times I imagine their work is only getting harder. For businesses trying to figure out who they are, EOS can be a supercharging framework.
How is your business working through questions of identity and brand?