Much of my work as a brand and culture strategist — one who works with leaders to define and activate the unique character, position, and voice of an organization — sits in the intersection of tangible and intangible outcomes.
Brand is a fuzzy word to many even in the business world. Not only is there lots of confusion around what a brand is, but there isn’t a lot of clarity on the value of a great brand.
Further, it’s difficult to judge the value of a brand that gets evolved — one that takes the business to the next level.
In successful companies, brand valuations account for over half of market capitalization (the market value of a publicly-traded company’s outstanding shares). As of May 2022, Apple has a market capitalization of $2.572 Trillion; half of that is roughly $1.25 Trillion. Consider the value of Coca-Cola, Nike, Google, Microsoft, Tesla, and other top brands.
That’s some pretty valuable intangibles.
And, the value of a brand doesn’t just hold true for public companies. Small companies, private organizations, and even non-profits invest in their brand because it shapes both tangible and intangible positions.
What would the value of Patagonia, a private company, be without its brand? Consider the same for the NFL, State Farm, and countless lesser-known brands.
Are the intangibles of a brand inconsequential?
Considering all the things your business invests in, which have the biggest long-term payoffs? A client recently summed it up: “In our 37 years in business, our brand work with you has been the best investment so far.”
From where I sit, the evidence is clear: your brand and its cultural underpinnings, are among your biggest investment payoffs.
What’s at stake?
Consider the alternative: not investing in brand strategy. Here are just a few things that would be consequential:
- No clear organizing system to align your team and leadership decisions
- No clear direction in which to aim your business success
- No clear driving motivators upon which to base business actions (aside from how to make money)
- Low motivation for meaningful innovation
- No system for leadership team alignment, leading to fractured decisions, back-channeling, and infighting
- Little (or no) guidance on how to consistently care for customers
- Weak, confusing market position, leading to customers going to your trust-able competition
- No customer loyalty, because you’d be a commodity business that competes on price
- No meaningful attractors or engagers for the right team members
- The team members you do have would have little appetite to stay or create quality work (aside from financial compensation)
- No organizing system for marketing communication, innovation, or defining success in business (aside from how much money you make)
I could go on, but I suspect you get the point.
So, instead of thinking about a brand as intangible, think of it as a magnetic bond (I cover brand magnetism in my recent book). A great brand strategy is an organizing system that attracts and retains the right customers, the right employees, investors, and partners.
Your brand is a bond that holds your business strategy together. It magnetically connects your people to your products or services.
This magnetic bond motivates people. It connects people. It creates a unified cultural foundation. It drives innovation. It defines customer service. It defines your company’s true north. And, it aligns all you do to an ignited and united core.
If you want your business to pay long-term dividends, invest in your brand and culture.
Steve can help you create an integrated belief-driven business that can reach and align with more of the right people —employees, customers, donors and investors—in a sustainable and meaningful way.