Authentic brands are not about marketing. They are not products. They live inside the company. And they are held and enacted of the people, by the people and for the people!
Just like the Declaration of Independence created the foundation of a nation, so does your brand act as the foundation of your company. Its principles are the framework for thought and action by everyone in the company. Without it there is no consistency, no alignment between what you say and what you do, no synchronicity between who you are inside and the way you present yourself outside.
You may askâ€”â€œwell isnâ€™t that the same as culture?â€ The answer is yes and no. Authentic brands are in many ways the identity of the company culture. They help that culture become visible. They also embody the values and purpose of the company, giving all these things a face and a voice that can be seen and heard by everyone the company touches. But especially your employees. As the people who most keenly impact the day-to-day beliefs and actions of the company it is constantly amazing how little they are considered when brand is discussed.
It is employees who show the brand to be true or not. Authentic brands live or die with the people in the organization. If they donâ€™t believe the brand, if they donâ€™t feel it is their cause, no campaign or change program on earth will help it succeed. Authentic brands feel natural. There is no need to â€œeducateâ€ the employeesâ€”they feel it immediately. There is no need to launch the â€œnewâ€ brand on your unsuspecting customersâ€”they have known it for years. When you are doing it day in and day out, saying it becomes almost superfluous.
This is exactly why you should want to find your authentic brand. Just imagine a brand that is enduring, that lasts beyond the next ad cycle, that is sustaining and sustainable, that feeds the soul of your company and makes the whole stronger. Imagine a brand that doesnâ€™t cause disharmony inside your company, that doesnâ€™t cause friction with the way you already do things.
This is an authentic brand!
Read the full Michael Hogan’s manifesto: We Need a New Word for Brand (600kb PDF file).