Powerful Questions to Ask about Your Brand
Apple, Starbucks, Procter & Gamble – all massively successful companies that are fierce protectors of their brands.
Why? These companies recognize the importance of creating a brand that has high value in the eyes of the public. In fact, these companies spend billions to mold consumers’ perception of them.
The outer surface of these brands (the Starbucks green, the sleek iDevice whites and grays, the P-ampersand-G) is never an afterthought, in fact, it’s tied to a deeper concept: core brand identity.
Core brand identity gets to the bottom of a brand. And any good entrepreneur will tell you that if you can’t quickly and succinctly answer the following about your company, you’ve got work to do:
- What is the company’s mission?
- What are the values that hold the company together?
- Why does the company exist?
- What does the company do that nobody else on the market does?
If you want your brand to catch on, to succeed, and to rise to the top, you need to be conceiving of your answers to these four questions. Let’s go through each of them in more detail.
What is My Company’s Mission?
What does your company aim to do in the world? What are its goals, not only for the proprietors and stakeholders of the business, but for the people it aims to serve, and for the broader society?
This is more than a fiscal goal, or a quantifiable goal like a number of sales to close or partnerships to obtain. While it’s crucial to have such goals, they are internal metrics, and not what you’re projecting out into the world as part of your brand.
Clarity about your mission ties into all of the remaining three questions, so starting with a comprehensive answer to this question is crucial.
To answer this question, it might help to draft your mission statement – which boils down aspects of the answers to the remaining 3 questions into one sentence. A great example is that of the TED brand, which offers TED talks and lectures. It’s simply: “Spread ideas.”
Current brand parlance sometimes refers to “vision statements,” where a mission statement describes the state of the company and work it has done, a vision statement might be more future-oriented.
For instance Google’s mission statement is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” while their vision statement is “to provide access to the world’s information in one click.” The mission statement is demonstrably happening with Google at current, but their vision statement – well, maybe you’re not always getting exactly what you need “in one click,” but that’s Google’s guiding vision.
What are the Values that Hold My Company together?
When considering your mission and vision, you want to think about values. Values are not universal. They are weighted according to life experiences, personal histories, and what individuals find to be important in their lives and important for their wider communities and society. You can leverage what makes your personal values distinct, in order to inform your brand.
When putting together your company’s values, consider the following: why do you do what you do? Because you love it? What do you love about it? Your passion and your driving force are going to inform the company values, along with the nuances of your personality and style in how you work and lead.
Core values and mission statements should be communicated to new employees from the outset, and finding people that understand and jive with your values and mission is what will drive your brand’s success.
Why does My Company Exist?
What is the company’s raison d’etre? This question is why CEOs need marketers, because the majority of CEOs think the answer here is “to make money,” and that might be the truth, but if you really want to succeed in offering a unique core brand proposition, you need to think deeper.
You want to bring the answers from the first and last question into play here. You not only need to consider your vision and mission, but consider the driving force for the inception of the company. Oftentimes, founders are driven by a perceived gap in the marketplace that they seek to fill with a unique product or brand proposition.
What does My company do that nobody else on the market does?
The “meaningful-brands” division of HAVAS group reports that as of 2020, 75% of brands could disappear and be easily replaced. This means that not enough operating officers have a well-conceived answer to this question, or if they do, they haven’t made it the public’s business.
There’s an excellent scene in the popular Showtime series Billions which encapsulates this concept. An entrepreneur sees her product failing even though her market position seemed incredibly promising at the onset of her start-up. A very successful entrepreneur gives her some tough-love;
“What is it you do that you’re the best in the world at? You offer a service you didn’t invent, a formula you didn’t invent, a delivery method you didn’t invent. Nothing about what you do is patentable or a unique user experience. You haven’t identified an isolated market segment, haven’t truly branded your concept. You need me to go on?”
And indeed, these are the terms in which to think when you’re carving out your brand. What makes you unique? If you’re doing something there’s already a large market for, how do you do it differently, how do you do it better? What’s your unique spin? How do your values play into your product?
Be Ruthless, Creative, and Consistent
So there you have it. When conceiving of your brand – get ruthlessly strategic, and balance that with creativity and personal philosophy. Above all – aim to be consistent. Figure out who you are and what you do, and stick to it. There’s a reason the 3 brands mentioned in the opening immediately conjured images to your mind – they have well defined core brand identities, and consistent devotion to that has made them unforgettable.