Build Your Brand From the Inside Out

MARTHA HEADERMartha Bartlett Piland
MB Piland Advertising + Marketing

Here are some things to help you think about how to build a brand that endures.

Know your “why”
Why does your brand exist? What are you here to do? When you have a purpose and can articulate it, you’ll have greater ease separating your brand from competitors. That translates to sales and profit as well as to talent attraction and retention. All are critical to your success.

In the past, being the highest quality or having the best customer service might have been enough to outpace the competition. No more.

Now, people look for brands that fill a personal need for connection. They want brands that match their own values and aspirations. Brands who know their WHY, then communicate and embody it have a huge advantage over those who are still stuck on “great service.”

Don’t wait. Get this figured out.

Get out of your own head
Many CEOs suffer from the Curse of Knowledge. Because they live and breathe the company strategy and purpose, they act as if employees have absorbed this information by osmosis or ESP. We know it just doesn’t work that way. It’s vitally important for leaders to communicate, listen, and share the company direction. When employees know how they can individually contribute to the company’s success, they’ll perform. Make them a part of your mission and they’ll be powerful ambassadors who make great things happen.

Be sure your actions match your purpose
When you plan the holiday party, an anniversary celebration or any event, make sure it’s aligned with your purpose. For example, if you’re about promoting financial well-being, you shouldn’t host a party in Las Vegas or give lottery tickets as gifts. On the flip side, if your brand is all about entertainment and escapism, a casino venue might be perfect.

When you sponsor or partner with a nonprofit, choose causes that support your beliefs. For Rolex’s 100th anniversary, they started a foundation to support environmental organizations who can create lasting change. Rolex is funding long-term impact: that’s a natural fit with a brand that’s been keeping time for more than a century.

Watch your language
What’s the internal language in your company? Does it match your purpose and culture?

If you have fun names for your teammates and fans, then by all means, use them. Nordstrom has its Nordies, Mars has its Martians and MB Piland has its Groovies. These monikers are well loved—they’re a badge of honor that’s proudly worn.

If your values call for the utmost respect for peers and customers, don’t tolerate any backroom name calling, eye rolling or disparaging remarks. Even if they’re never overheard (but they probably will be), they’re a poison that starts to soak into everything.