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It’s All About The Brand

During a branding exercise, we asked the top 25 executives of a Fortune 400 company, “If this company were an animal, which animal would it be?” From the 25 responses, they named 24 different animals.

Elephant… Alligator… Lion… Bear… Gorilla…Horse…Water buffalo…

African-Water-Buffalo-vjosuYou see where this is going, right? As each executive offered cited characteristics of the animal chosen, it was obvious no one thought of the company in the same way, or as the same animal. (Except for the two who chose gorilla.)

So what does it mean when 25 top executives give 24 different responses on the personality animal of their company? The disparity illustrated (quite literally when we showed a graphic of the animals) that if the top leaders in the company were not in accord with the company’s brand personality, then customers’ perceptions would be just as varied.

If You Don’t Stand For Something, You’ll Fall For Everything

The company needed to identify and define its brand image because it didn’t have one. A good branding strategy lists the one or two most important elements of your company’s product or service, describes your company’s ultimate purpose in the world and defines your target customer. Within that is the development of your company’s personality. The result is a blueprint for what’s most important to your company and to your customers.

Branding-AddingTheingToYourBrandSeveral of the executives had a hard time accepting a corporate branding strategy. In this multi-billion dollar corporation there was disparity among the ranks; several business units operated rogue. They didn’t want to be part of the larger corporate image – they thought they were doing just fine on their own, thank you very much, so please leave them alone.

Unfortunately, this maverick attitude wasn’t working for a North American company attempting to establish roots and a foothold in the global marketplace. They had four major brands running independently from the corporate brand, competing in overlapping markets for products and services. Ultimately, there were missed opportunities and duplicitous business development activities. A unified brand strategy would have helped remedy this, not to mention a firm global business strategy.

How do you define your brand, whether it’s for your company, your product/service or for you? Which animal are you? And do your customers see you the same way?

For more information on what you should not miss in your branding strategy, check out this article in Forbes http://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2014/03/10/6-brand-strategies-that-most-cmos-fail-to-execute/