Brand Leadership Is Not A Compliance Exercise

So yesterday a question came up about brand guidelines. Does anyone have examples, and if so can they share.
There are about a million examples. But they don't necessarily help you build a brand.

The critical first step, and what most organizations can't really cope with, is to think. Just stop, reflect, stop checking the iPhone for a minute, and make decisions that not everyone is going to like.

These are the questions that need to be asked. They are leadership questions, because where the ship is headed decides what color you paint the ship with and what you name it:
  • What are we good at? To the point where we are better than anybody else? 
  • What are we passionate about and why? 
  • Can we narrow that down to a very fine point? 
  • Can we make it distinct from anybody "comparable?"
  • Why is our offering relevant to the public?
  • Is it so important that they're willing to pay?
  • Are we a group of decent human beings, with values that support the rest of what we do?
Branding is surgery. At a very minimum, you cut out the cancer so the rest of the organism can live:
  • Are we ready to stop doing certain things and start doing others?
  • How about promoting people we aren't comfortable with, and letting others go who we are?
  • Are we willing to hire people with technical expertise we can't understand?
  • Are we willing to put different people in charge?
  • Will we confront and control toxic behaviors among the staff?
As a consultant I always wanted to do this stuff, and so did everybody else in the group.

But the customers always wanted guidelines, and pretty templates and graphics and fonts.

It is a lot easier after all to frame a poster with an asinine ad inside of it, than to really drill down and unearth the discomforts that pretty pictures paper over.

* All opinions my own.


Everything Good Is A "Bad Idea"

Love is improbable and often fails. But we seek it out anyway. Over and over again.

Children are love of a different kind; you invest with no serious hope of return. Rather, you do it for the giving.

Careers for passion are low-paying, insecure and can leave you working at two jobs instead of one. But enough of us choose that route because it feels right.

Many people give their lives and limbs for a cause.

Why are we so "irrational?" Economic theory would posit that self-aggrandizement makes more sense.

Because life is just too painful to bear when we death-walk through it, a bunch of fancy zombies in business suits.

The only thing that matters is alive. The only thing that makes alive is inconvenient meaning. 

Everything else - not worth getting up out of bed.

The "zombie" life is so incredibly unappealing. Even when you give it your all, nobody wants to be there.

The meaningful life is inconvenient. It's also real and feels good. It's where normal people want to be. And they spend their time and money where the meaning is at.

As consumers and as employees.

* All opinions my own.


Personal Branding As A Moral Enterprise

When I started out as a brand consultant one of the most important mantras I heard was "Your brand is your promise." (The other was, "You have a brand whether you like it or not.")

In the commercial world, branding is clearly an activity undertaken for financial gain. Companies portray an image, hope to pay less for the image than what you take away from it, and pocket the difference between the two.

Personal branding is different. It is commonly thought of as your professional image, e.g. that you make yourself seem competent, confident - the kind of person someone would want to hire for their work skills.

That is part of it. But there's also a personal integrity part, and that part is much more important. If your apple is rotten at the core then nobody wants to do business with you.

All of us say that we are moral people. But our actions speak to whether we deliver. The consistency (or lack thereof) determines our brand.

If you look at personal branding as a moral enterprise, the terrain regarding brand-building becomes extraordinarily complex, sensitive and challenging. Not because most adults require guidance - most of us can tell right from wrong. But because we know that saying and doing are two completely different things.

So I think of branding as a spiritual thing. It is not easy or convenient. It may even be a career-limiting move. But it does feel good to be the kind of person you'd want to have working for you, if you had to check their references.

* All opinions my own.

Inspiration of the Day: "Joel Osteen #528 - Hit the Delete Button" (Video, full-length)

More than one devoutly religious Jewish person has told me they think Joel Osteen is a holy person who says the word of G-d. I'll be honest - his sermons often make me cry. It is as if G-d is literally speaking through him.

No matter who you are or what your faith, the motivational concepts he shares are universal.

This sermon is a particularly good one, especially if you literally use the computer a lot. In it Osteen talks about literally hitting the "delete" key whenever anyone tells you something that could limit your life's potential.

Turn it off! Turn it off!

Jewish people believe that thoughts follow deeds, hence we are commanded to do positive things whether we believe they make sense or not. Osteen says the reverse, "Our lives follow our thoughts."

Both are true. I know this much is true. When someone tries to block that light that G-d is shining on you, step out of their shadow and erase the memory completely from your mind.

You are blessed and it's a blessed day. Live in truth, live your conscience and live in the victory that comes from serving the One Above, in the way your soul tells you to be accurate.


 

* All opinions my own.

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