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How Deep is Your Brand?

September 04,2014

John Ferreira is VP of Brand Strategy at Finch Brands where he leads Brand Development and Brand Management initiatives that help companies build, manage, and grow their brands.  He and his team specialize in areas such as corporate vision/mission/values, competitive strategy, brand architecture, brand positioning and messaging, brand launches, product/service innovation, pricing strategy, packaging strategy, advertising strategy, and marketing planning.  Prior to joining Finch Brands, John spent more than a decade at Campbell Soup Company focused on Brand Management, Consumer Insights, and New Product Commercialization.

How deep is your brand?

In the marketplace, the answer to this simple question can be the difference between your most valuable customers sticking with you or saying ‘sayonara.’  In the workplace, it can determine whether your star performers spurn more lucrative offers from competitors or decide to walk away.

Brands are symbols of meaning.  Deep brands are those for which that meaning is real to people.  They have substance.  They matter.  They connect.  Deep brands tap into what makes us all human.  They hack the code of our ancient tribal instinct to connect to something bigger than ourselves.   Shallow brands are focused on transactional relationships.  Deep brands are focused on transformational ones.

Five simple words that rule your company’s future. How deep is your brand?

For corporate brands, the answer to this question is something that every CEO and CMO needs in order to truly know the base of strength or weakness upon which all other critical decisions stand.  The deeper your brand is, the more valuable your relationships are with customers and employees.  Shallow brands do not support effective customer marketing, employee engagement, recruitment, or retention.  Any efforts that a shallow brand puts forth in these areas will likely be grossly inefficient with extremely low returns on investment.  In contrast, a deep brand benefits from an inherent tailwind in all of these areas.  Its depth creates a gravitational pull, drawing customers in to connect via social media, keeping valued employees in the fold, and attracting new candidates who want to be part of something truly special.

So what drives a corporate brand’s depth?  There are three core, complementary components, and they’re among the most misunderstood and poorly executed concepts in the modern business world – Vision, Mission, and Values.  While most executives write off these aspects of the corporate brand as academic, those who have built the world’s greatest brands know that they are the foundation upon which the house is built.

Vision

Your vision is your corporate brand’s 'North Star' and the answer to why your company and brand exist.  It’s future focused, long term, and speaks to the positive change that you seek to bring about in the world through the collective work of your organization.  Your vision should inspire those closest to you and guide the big bets for your firm.  Believing in your vision invites people to care about your brand and gives your brand a strong core.

Mission

Your Mission is the ‘How’ behind the ‘Why’ of your Vision.   The Mission is focused on the present and describes the ongoing good work that your people perform for your customers every day.  An effective Mission must speak to who you serve, what you deliver to them, and how you deliver it.  Fully rendered, a powerful mission acts as the guide to the day-to-day decisions across all levels of your organization.  Believing in your Mission is what gets your staff out of bed in the morning and gets your customers to connect via social media and other touch points.

Values

Values are the glue that helps everything hang together.  They elaborate on the spirit and the substance of your Vision and Mission, acting as a clear articulation of the personality and ethic behind your brand.  Most importantly, Values are verbs!  They are not nouns. They are active, not passive. Galvanizing, not stationary.  In order to effectively model desired internal behaviors and truly connect with external stakeholders, Values must connect with actions.  Using Facebook as an example, one of their core values is “Move fast and break things.” Think about how much more deeply Facebook employees can connect with this Value than if it had simply been phrased as ‘Innovation.’

So how deep is your brand? 

Does your company have a powerful answer, fueled by the Vision, Mission, and Values that truly engage and motivate your employees and your customers?  Are they real assets or simply a box that has been checked?  Imagine how much stronger your corporate brand could be if they were well-crafted and transparent about who your company is and why it should matter.  Make it matter.  Go deep.

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John Ferreira, VP of Brand Strategy

Author’s Note: The content in this article reflects integrated thinking from some of the greatest contemporary minds in organizational branding today.  For more cutting edge thinking on Vision, Mission, and Values, Finch Brands recommends following LinkedIn CEO Jeff WeinerStart with Why author Simon Sinek, and Scaling Up Excellence authors Huggy Rao and Bob Sutton.

Brand Wisdom/ Branding/ Research/ Strategy/ Vision and Mission