Brand values can influence an organization’s destiny.
Those values are the ideals and experiences that the organization claims to follow as golden standards for doing business. Despite the huge influence that
values have on a brand, they’re usually seen as a list of ethical and operational ideals rather than actions an organization takes to set its brand apart.
In most cases, an organization’s list of brand values tends to state the obvious and is identical to those of the competition.
So, how does an organization go beyond just words and move into action?
Business leaders should identify a personality they feel their organization can benchmark against, a person who encapsulates the values that attract
The values of individuals like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Jack Welch would appear to be obvious choices for organizations to emulate, but they rarely
are. Instead, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Elon Musk and David Bowie are looked to more often.
The latter share traits that set them apart: courage and a penchant for rebellious behavior.
Every time I’m asked what made Bowie so special, the feedback is the same: He continuously transformed his brand and never stood still. He simply refused
to get boring.
Although some organizations are like Bowie in this sense, most opt for conservativism, caution and middle-of-the-road appearances.
These organizations often struggle in today’s world, where courage defines many success stories. Unfortunately, a “how to develop courage” chapter doesn’t
exist in any branding manual.
Brand values should serve as a mandate for an organization’s future, mapping a path for growth. Once you’ve attached a value to your brand, you’ve given
those attached to that brand an ideal to strive for.
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Roughly 70 percent of many retailers’ success is due not to what I call the “hardware,” or the brand’s visual identity (products or store designs), but to
If the organization’s staff lives by edgy values, the brand becomes edgy. If they live by values that are considered “safe,” then the brand becomes safe.
More often, consumers are seeking edge, and organizations should follow suit.
A great brand identity and store design might have an impact for a couple of months. Then, as with everything, they become stale.
An organization will soon return to being considered a safe brand if brand managers don’t invoke courage. It’s the staff’s general mindset and their
customer interactions that can refresh the brand.
Take Bowie, for example. Being at the top of pop music for decades is an almost impossible task. One look at iTunes shows that he has five of the 10
Bowie embraced courage, to the benefit of his brand.
He was one of the first to foresee that record labels would become less relevant and that copyrights soon would disappear. Perhaps this, though, was his
most spot-on prediction, according to a 2002 interview from The New York Times:
“Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity.”
His courage ran through his brand, a core value that many organizations seem fearful of adopting. If you take steps toward adopting this trait, your brand
will deliver the thing most consumers are after.
Martin Lindstrom is a branding consultant and
. A version of this
originally appeared on LinkedIn.