It’s the second week of 2018, and aren’t you already tired of the same “Top 5 resolutions of the year” or the “Top 5 trends that will change your life “foreva” blogs? Me too. So, here’s another one.
But in all seriousness, with everything that has transpired domestically and globally in the last 12 months, there has been much said about getting back to basics, suggesting it may be time to put your house in order. We’re in the business of developing transformative experiences for your business that will create a more fulfilling future. And there are 5 key ingredients to making that happen, that I hope will NEVER become trends, but rather ever-present tenets and priorities in your brand. They are:
Truth. Transparency. Authenticity. Simplicity. Clarity.
Truth. Fact. Fake. Truth has almost become a joke word. What’s Truth? Well, what are the pillars—the compelling truths of your brand? The underlying truths that are inherent in everything you do and stand for as a brand? Do you have any? If not, how can your position in the marketplace stand up to scrutiny? How can your product offering be believable? And how can your purpose be deliberate? Finding the truth in your brand—if you do not already know it—is imperative to long-term growth and stability. The competitive landscape continues to grow all around you with new products and brands that have a keen understanding of consumers and their ability to detect fact from fiction. Brands challenge one another every day on the basis of truth and responsibility. Being able to defend your position and justify your existence is dependent on the truth of your brand.
For many years brands could hang window-dressing via spiffy advertising and dazzle the consumer with shiny objects. Today, social media and a 24-hour news cycle mean that nothing can be hidden for long. Your brand must be transparent—to both its external and internal audiences. Brand ambassadors are born of transparency. Brand loyalty is rare today and brand preference is harder to come by than ever. Preference is created by value, and value is generated by meaning. Brand meaning comes from knowledge the consumer obtains through transparency. When this happens, the culture of your brand is plainly evident.
Rarely is a disingenuous brand more attractive than one that is authentic. When a consumer is given the choice between a brand that offers a genuine perspective, founded in truth and transparency, versus one that is laden with spin and trend, they’ll pick what is real every time. Authenticity shows itself as a reflection of the brand’s purpose and integrity—its reason to exist. The brand personality amplifies that authenticity and then naturally manifests itself through verbal and visual expressions of the brand. Without it, it’s merely a label on a product.
You may think a brand with truth, transparency, and authenticity would find it hard to communicate and manifest itself simply. Actually, the opposite is true. Truth rarely requires hyperbole. And while communicating your brand with simplicity takes skill, the resulting message is far more compelling. And more valuable to shareholders, employees, and consumers. Market leaders know that simplicity is key to portraying a brand—both visually and verbally. It shows restraint, control, confidence, and intelligence. Attributes anyone would seek in a brand. Think of the most elegant logos of the past 50 years or the most memorable tag lines, or the most beautiful web sites. They all have the elements of truth, transparency, and authenticity in common and have communicated them simply.
Next to simplicity, in the co-pilot’s seat, is clarity. Look at today’s marketplace—instant gratification, clutter, sea-of-sameness, “me too” brands, complications from abundance. Never has clarity of message been more important to differentiating your brand from the competition—both verbally and visually. Clearly communicating your brand’s purpose and positioning is what defines your brand and creates meaning, value, and preference. With only seconds to gain the attention of your consumer, either online or on a busy store shelf, the difference between winning and losing comes down to clarity.
So, if there’s one 2018 resolution I recommend, it is to reflect on your brand—its purpose, the compelling truths (pillars), its positioning, personality, and its value propositions. Is your brand built from the inside out with these 5 key elements? Does the visual and verbal expression of your brand reflect these 5 qualities? If not, that may explain why other parts of your business aren’t performing as well as you would like. Your brand should act as an ecosystem, nurturing and feeding your internal and external audiences. If yours does not, perhaps 2018 is the year to put your house in order.