When it comes to creating experiences for companies, I am still surprised, even today, to hear clients say ‘We don't just want to be another… we want something really unique’. This happened to me the other day when I was in a meeting with Senior Bankers in the UAE. There is nothing wrong with the question, of course, every organization wants to be unique and special, it is just that I am surprised to hear this coming from executives who themselves have a responsibility to ensure their organization is unique, relevant and meaningful.
It is true to say that no organization approaches me unless they have a problem they need to solve - a tricky new competitor, a change in technology, in demographics, or a change in laws may be some of the challenges they face. So when a client asks me, how are you going to create a solution that solves my problem and is unique to my organization - not a copy/paste of what you have done before, the simple answer I give is ‘Brand DNA’… that is the simple answer, in the next few paragraphs, I will explain what brand DNA is and why the consistent application of a Brand DNA has the power to not only transform a company but catapult it ahead of its competition.
Much like the DNA that makes us who we are, organizations also have a DNA. This DNA describes who they are, how they behave, what their aspirations are, how they approach the opportunity, how they approach challenges, where they are, who they get along with and who they don’t… etc. To understand an organizations Brand DNA, one has to look at a number of aspects which include, but are not limited to the following:
Values: What does the organization stand for? What are the principles that guide it?
Mission: What is the organization trying to achieve and how?
Perception: How to employees see this organization and how to customers, both existing and potential see the organization?
Business plan: What is the organizations business plan and strategy?
Cultural norms: What is unique about the organization's culture and the culture of the markets it serves?
Communication style: What is the organization's communication style. Through which channels does the organization communicate and how?
Design detailing: How does the organization express itself and what is its style?
Digital footprint: How does the organization use technology? Is this appropriate for the customer they serve, does it need to change and if so, how?
Physical footprint: How does the organization express itself in the physical world?
People: Who are the employees of an organization, what is their personality and style? Who are the organization's leadership and what is their personality and style? How are employees incentivized? Is this appropriate to where the organization wants to go?
Risk: What is the organization's approach to risk
Innovation: What is the organizations approach to innovation - leader, laggard or follower?
Association: What is the organization associated with and why?
Delivery: What does the organization do?
Satisfaction: Why does the organization do what it does?
You can see from this list, that developing and refining a Brand DNA involves a profound and deep understanding the every aspect of an organization. You can also see why every organization is different. By understanding each and every one of these elements questioning, refining and questioning again, a skilled designer is able to extrapolate an organizations personality and craft not only a ‘logo’, but a totally immersive experience that is unique, an embodiment of the organization in every aspect, and that immersive experience starts with writing down the answers to these questions, challenging and re-challenging them to a point where the organization and the people within it have a clear understanding of who they are, what they do, why they do it and how they behave.
Interestingly, some organizations fear this approach, considering that it is too complex, too challenging and too intimate. However, this is not the approach I recommend. Defining your Brand DNA, and the training that follows its definition will not only help your organization achieve its goals more quickly and efficiently and give you a barometer by which to measure your people, help them grow and ensure their fit in your company. It will also help you attract and retain, grow, communicate and deliver in harmony. Everyone working together to deliver a clear and high-performance brand experience.
In the future, particularly in the banking and telecommunications sectors, Brand will be the key differentiator and determine your success, or failure. The time to understand who you are, what makes you unique and why customers want you in their lives is now. You will be astounded by the results.