Phillippians 2:3-8 – “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others. Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself but assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in external form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.”
Here in 2022, another hot topic we are highlighting is the need to build and maintain an authentic brand. In other words, people are tired of the noise, spin and mis-direction from companies (and maybe our politicians too?) so there is an increasing appetite to do business with companies who stand for something, express their values and do what they say. There is an unfortunate, long history of leaders and companies saying one thing for approval but doing something entirely different when the cameras are off. In terms of business, this theme of authentic brand rings true for every business model – B2C, B2B, B2B2C.
One area where Josh, the Consultant, has worked on these issues is related to product market fit work. In partnership with several clients, this can go very right or very wrong but usually depends on how well a particular company or product team is willing to sacrifice their own ego and talk directly to the customer before building out features and solutions. We can certainly come with informed opinions to form hypotheses but must test these out with customers. For example, when working with a Fortune 10 company to break into healthcare with their collaboration platform tool, the sales and marketing team completely misunderstood the dynamics of the healthcare buying and user persona dynamics. First, the user/persona was completely disconnected from the decision-maker so convincing the decision-maker just of the value to the user/persona was not nearly enough. Second, healthcare typically does decision-making by committee so we had to convince this client through customer research that they must revise their marketing and sales language, along with their feature roadmap, to reflect the diverse interests of decision-makers in healthcare who come from finance, operations and clinical divisions.
Why does it matter how you connect your products/services, with your language and to your customer? Because consumers and buyers are increasingly aware of ‘spin’ and resisting it. To build an authentic brand, you must drill down to understand/convey your value, what makes you unique and express it to the market in ways which are full of integrity. Expressing these aspects of your company clearly and simply will reap rewards for your brand, your sales and your business.
In another engagement with a non-profit school, Josh worked with a dynamic CEO who had successfully built a software and services business in education during the 1980’s. He had a dynamic vision for a hybrid technology solution which would greatly diminish the brick and mortar requirements of private schools and enable many smaller communities around the world to afford this previously unreachable standard of education. However, there was one small problem – the CEO, his ego and his style were stuck in the 1980’s. He was unable to evolve his approach or his leadership to match the context for his vision during a pandemic. This disconnect and lack of authenticity destroyed the culture and vision before it could even get started.
So, how do you get started on building an authentic brand, here are some ideas to consider:
- Assess your products and services against the needs of your customers. How well do you meet your needs? Where do you fall short? Dig five layers deep into the why underneath the problems. Work to overcome these with more valuable features
- Assess your values as a company and how well you live these out on a daily basis – where you fall short, be honest with yourself and put in plans to improve
- Analyze your brand awareness in your target market(s) in terms of how well your products meet the needs of your customer (part 1) and your values (part 2). Where you have gaps, start working on ways to close the gap between what customers think about you and how your value is perceived and what you actually are able to do from a product, services and company values perspective
We hope this inspires you to build an authentic brand at your company. What are some ways The Consultant and The Coach help their clients with authenticity and brand?
- Guide a CEO or board through a product assessment and roadmap exercise to improve the value they deliver
- Conduct an internal and external values assessment to help a company determine how well they are living their stated values
- Build a brand campaign to better convey a company’s products, services and overall value proposition and their values in a more concise, authentic way.
- Coach the CEO or executives on their own leadership brand to better show up as competent, prepared leaders who people trust and follow.
- Work with HR to build internal efforts with various leaders to better articulate and live out the stated values of the company.