I have seen hard-nosed businessmen at each other’s throats about subtle changes in colour and hue and the exact shade required to convey the right message.
What should the company mission statement and strap-line be? What should be depicted in the logo? Should we use an established font or create one of our own? Opinion is often divided, and therein lurks a greater issue.
Branding is merely the tip of the iceberg. If individuals can’t agree on the core values of the company, then they would do well to invest time into addressing those issues before wasting effort on their corporate branding.
Having everyone working towards the same goal, singing off the same hymn sheet or being ‘on the same page’ might be a dreadful list of clichés, but if core values are at best confused and at worst missing entirely, then this is an early indication that the business may not be destined for success.
In businesses that are already well established, this is an even more serious problem as deep conflicts may exist around the overall direction of the company, which will have an effect on culture and efficiency and spill over into the realm of customer perception also.
Finding out that your business partner has different or even conflicting key values to you is, however, the first step towards building bridges that will serve your company well in the future. It may be possible for you both to achieve your goals, provided you are willing to compromise a little along the way.
So what is your business? What does it stand for? What makes it tick?
One of the best ways I know of getting people ‘on message’ whilst sending out a clear signal to customers is to simply ask the opinions of existing employees, customers or potential customers (if you have them).
It can be incredibly revealing to ask fellow board members all the way through the office junior what they think of the business. Sometimes doing this anonymously is a good idea as you will get feedback that is more accurate, if a little bruising.
What are the business’s strengths, and what are its weaknesses? What words would they use to describe it? How would they sum up its personality? What do they find inspiring about other brands? How would they like to be able to describe the brand, even if it doesn’t yet live up to the label?
Words that are the same or have the same meaning and that reoccur frequently are those that you should pay the most attention to. If they are favourable, you might just have the makings of your new brand identity. If they are not, then they might give you a clue as to what you need to fix in order for your business to move forward successfully.
Substituting a recurring bad phrase for its opposite, can also have a dramatic effect on a company and give staff and employees something to aspire to. In that way, corporate displays can be used internally as a constant visual reminder of what you are working towards as well as in the more traditional way at trade fairs and exhibitions. Externally the message is clear to customers, and when your external ‘face’ matches your internal operations, you have a successful business.