Having a strong brand foundation is crucial to seeing success in your business. COVID caused a huge perspective shift for people as they reevaluated their lives—work, home, interests, beliefs, you name it. We’ve seen this play out with the Great Resignation, as millions quit their jobs over the last year and a half. To top it off, we’re facing constant financial, social, and political turbulence in our world. When all around us is uncertain, it’s important to create a strong foundation to move your business forward and keep the momentum going.
Now, it’s important to understand that branding goes beyond just a logo. It’s the foundation of your identity.
Brand foundation is made up of 4 core elements:
Over time, these terms have become buzzwords and are thrown around with little to no understanding. Businesses create a powerful sentence that incites emotion, calling it their mission statement, just for it to live on their website and grow stale. Or departments write out ideas of what they want to be without consulting the rest of the company, and these “values” don’t have the needed buy-in. These elements can and should hold weight in defining and understanding your business if developed and used correctly.
Your internal brand—purpose, vision, mission, and values—are the building blocks of your business, not just fun inspirational posters. Understanding these elements, how they work together, and applying them to your everyday business operations will help move your business forward.
How do you define purpose, vision, mission, and values?
Purpose is the heartbeat of your business. This is your “why.” Your purpose is tied to a problem you hope to solve through your passion and capabilities. People are attracted to purpose. Take Tom’s Shoes, for example. Their purpose is to give to those in need. They started their company with the one-for-one model. For every pair of shoes purchased, a pair of shoes was donated to someone in need. Over the years their business has grown, and today they donate one-third of their profits. But their purpose has always remained the same: to give to those in need.
Vision stems from purpose. If your purpose presents the problem you want to solve, then your vision, the eyes of your business, sees the desired end result. Ask yourself, where do I see my business in 20 years? How will my business make a difference in the industry or customers I serve? Vision is tied to transformation—seeing the problem, the solution, and the transformation between the two. Vision paints a picture of the future that attracts and inspires. A business with strong vision is Disney: to make people happy. They’ve successfully accomplished this end goal through a number of mediums: theme parks, movies, television shows, toys, books, apparel. They’ve created a variety of ways for people to experience happiness.
Mission complements vision as the boots-on-the-ground action of moving your organization forward toward your vision. If your vision is what you’d like to see changed in the world, your mission is how you get there, moving you forward towards your goals. But: how do you get there? What specifically needs to be created, accomplished, and built for you to reach the end goal of your vision? I recommend setting goals looking out at the next one, three, and ten year marks. Develop realistic goals you can work towards that will help you achieve your vision, and then actively work towards each of those goals, using them as a guide in your everyday business operations.
Values. Your values are the hands of your organization. They serve as your guiding principles and are the tangible ways each employee can show up every day to help make the mission a reality. These values create your company culture. If everyone at your organization is exhibiting the same five values, together, you’ll be able to accomplish anything you set out to achieve.
Why is building a strong foundation important?
People are looking to connect with businesses that align with their values. People want to support businesses that they believe in, whether at work, or shopping for goods and services. Having a strategically defined brand and being able to clearly communicate will help you both internally and externally.
Defining your brand foundation is like marking the front of your bus—you know where you’re headed. Your employees will know the direction you’re going and can join you on the journey forward. And if not, it’s easy to pull over and let them off the bus so they can head in a different direction. Creating a unified understanding of your business—why you do what you do, the end goal, and how you’ll get there—will create a healthy and thriving company culture. You’ll be able to better attract and retain the right employees when there’s transparency in your business’ direction.
A healthy company culture leads to increased production and efficiency, and your customers will take note. Consumers want to support businesses that are doing good in the world, making a difference for their customers, and creating a positive environment for their employees. With every part of your company on the same page, you can effectively market your products and services and position yourself well in the industry to reach your target audience.
How do you create your organization’s brand foundation?
Not sure where to start? Gather your key stakeholders and decision-makers and set aside time to reflect on how you would define these areas of your business. Once they’re nailed down, communicate them to your employees. These should be known and understood by everyone on your team, serving as a benchmark to ensure that everyone is on the same page and bought into your company’s future.
Larger ideas like your purpose and vision should be communicated on an annual basis. Because the mission is goal-oriented, it should be reviewed and analyzed monthly, quarterly, and annually. This will help your teams to stay on track towards achieving your goals and will give you space to adjust if more time is needed. Your values should be communicated often. Shoot, plaster them on your walls to serve as a daily reminder. They should be easily remembered by everyone in your organization with the expectation that they show up to work exhibiting those characteristics every day. Values serve as good benchmarks for things like interviews, evaluations, and reviews.
Defining these elements of your organization won’t happen overnight, but it’s a worthwhile investment to solidify where you stand and develop the momentum you need to successfully move your business forward.
Interested in learning more tangible ways you can dive into your brand foundation? Contact us for resources and tutorials!