Brand is culture.
There, I’ve just written the shortest blog ever!
Perhaps this needs a bit more explanation…
Many businesses come to us because they want to refresh their image and their message.
They might have experienced a disappointing run of new business pitches and realised that they way they are presenting themselves is no longer cutting it when compared to the competition. Somehow they just come across as a bit old school or even old hat.
They want to look and sound sharper. More relevant. More interesting. All of that is relatively easy once we’ve understood the marketplace, the customers, the opportunity and the business. We’re really good at helping businesses to look their very best with shiny logos, great presentations, cool websites, slick offices and eye catching liveries. Simples!
But suddenly presenting the outside world with a refreshed brand identity isn’t going to make a real difference if the business itself doesn’t do things differently.
Let’s go back to those failed new business pitches. Was the problem with the slide presentation or the fact that there was too much presenting in the first place and not enough listening?
What is brand culture?
If brand identity is the external manifestation of your brand then brand culture is the internal expression and that has everything to do with ‘how’ a business thinks and acts.
Let’s stay with the sales presentation because it really is at the sharp end of what branding is all about. A strong brand will help ensure you are invited to pitch in the first place. Making sure the business card and the slide deck look fabulous on the day isn’t really that hard. We can even make a cool little film and produce a nice leave behind. But that’s never enough.
What we end up doing is questioning the whole approach to the sales pitch to see if we can’t help our clients get closer to their potential customers. And win that next big deal.
I’ve worked with three businesses recently to change their mindset and get them to think and act very differently when pitching.
So how did we bring the brand culture to life?
First we made it mostly about the customer and less about the business.
We started off asking questions and opening up a conversation about the future. But with the focus very firmly on them, not us. On a hot date, you don’t spend the whole time talking about yourself and yet that’s what most sales pitches seem to do!
We made it a more collaborative and creative process where prospect and service provider began to explore and develop a solution together.
In some situations we got rid of the presentation altogether and had a book instead. Because that’s more intimate and flexible. It’s a support to a conversation, not the conversation itself. It feels real. And the customer walks away with it. Even better.
We made sure each business had a clear point of view about the marketplace and the big issues and drivers that were shaping change. Suddenly the conversation was a lot more strategic and less tactical. We focused on big stuff not small stuff.
We also simplified. Everything. People’s bandwidth to take on board lots of detail is limited. So we really worked hard at communicating a simple and salient message that was refreshing and memorable.
Brand culture is clearly about a lot more than how you make your sales pitch. But the example I’ve given shows that ‘how’ you do things is as fundamental as the message and the graphics and that’s all down to culture. A culture of listening, of collaboration, of creativity, of making your customer’s lives easier.
On larger strategic branding programmes there’s an equal emphasis on the internal manifestation of the brand (culture) as there is on the external manifestation (identity) because there’s no point looking like Fred Astaire if you don’t know how to dance.
For more information on our approach to strategic branding click here.
Rebecca is the founder and Managing Director of rbl. An experienced brand and marketing professional, Rebecca has spent over 30 years helping clients to build, design and manage their brands.