The Inside Story
“Whatever you believe about yourself on the inside is what you will manifest on the outside.”
Whoever originated that maxim probably wasn’t thinking about branding, but he or she could have been. While many spiritual practices have a version of this statement at their very heart, the lesson is relevant to any company wanting to establish an authentic, sustainable brand in an overcrowded market.
In her book, “What Great Brands Do,” author Denise Lee Yohn details seven key principles that are implemented by the world’s most successful brands. She tackles the first and most important of the seven in the book’s first chapter, “Great Brands Start Inside.”
Research tells us that staffers at most businesses think of branding as the purview of the marketing department, but successful companies know that a powerful, authentic brand is rooted in the DNA, the very culture of the company.
“Your starting point is cultivating a strong internal corporate culture that aligns and integrates with your brand,” Yohn says. “And finally, you need to use your culture to optimize the company’s operations and engage everyone who touches the brand in delivering a focused, unique customer experience.”
Substitute the word “culture” for “people,” and you’re really on to something. When everyone’s job is branding, when every staffer understands and can clearly articulate the company’s message, when every employee becomes a living, breathing embodiment of the brand; in other words, when everyone is fully on board, that’s when this branding thing really kicks in.
Working from that inner strength brings a renewed level of passion and energy to a company’s core mission. And that passion and energy translates into the kind of consistently powerful customer experience that distinguishes great companies.
“With great brands, the culture and the values don’t play supporting roles in business operations,” Yohn says. “Culture and values are the brand, and they’re used to inform business decisions and employee actions.”