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How To Grow Your Organisation’s Emotional Intelligence Through Branding — A Practical Guide

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence can basically be defined as the ability to understand your own reactions, recognise those of others, and adjust your behaviour according to both. Initially gaining popularity in the 1995 book by the same title, written by the author, psychologist, and science journalist Daniel Goleman, EQ is now widely considered one of the most determinative variables in personal, leadership and business success.

Being self-aware means you can be honest with yourself about your strengths, weaknesses and wounds, and can truly see your own emotions as they manifest themselves throughout your day.

Recognising others implies that you have the capacity to look beyond yourself towards the needs of those you share your living and working spaces with. The core component here is called empathy, and it enables you to not only point out, but also deeply identify with the emotions of others.

Finally, armed with the information about your own state of being, as well as how those around you are reacting, high EQ means you have the necessary discipline to adjust your own behaviour in useful and meaningful ways.

These are the three basic core components of what it means to grow and communicate as a mature and emotionally intelligent person.

How does that translate, if at all, on a corporate level — whether in the context of a business, or a not-for-profit organisation?

Can An Organisation Be Emotionally Intelligent?

Moving from a personal understanding of EQ to recognising the parallels in a corporate context is fairly simple.

Every successful business owner would testify to the fact that a purposeless business would never be able to actualise any sustainable profit, if it wasn’t ultimately convinced of the reasons for its existence. This hold true especially in the areas of not-for-profit, philanthropic and charitable organisations.

The logical next step would be to turn the focus away from the organisation, and focus on those the organisation is trying to reach. Proper target market research is one of the most underestimated tools in the arsenal of the emotionally intelligent organisation. Truly understanding the concerns and contexts of its customer base, will enable an organisation to design solutions that make a real-world difference.

Once an organisation finds a natural overlap between its own purpose and the pain-points of its proposed target audience, it should consistently act in such a way to establish a meaningful and sustainable connection between the two. Since the vast majority of any corporate behaviour can be understood as some form of communication, learning to communicate in a manner that is simultaneously confident in itself and concerned for its audience, is what ultimately sets the emotionally intelligent organisation apart from the rest.

Branding As Part Of Organisational Emotional Intelligence

The branding of an organisation fundamentally means the consistent communication of its inherent purpose and intentions, to a specific target audience, in a manner that they can easily understand, as it speaks to their own needs and wants.

Branding is an opportunity for any organisation to express its unique identity to the world. Taking the time to understand its identity and purpose, will free an organisation to be true to itself in the marketplace, and associate with those that naturally identify with its core being.

On the other hand, effective branding creates a framework of association for those who fall within the defined target audience.

Brands ceased to be expressions of product truth a long time ago. Instead, they communicate the perceived and ideal identity of the target audience, as well as the nature of the relationship between the organisation and the audience. Branding then is everything you do to establish or influence those associations. By inventing a brand, you can create an identity that is greater than the sum of its parts. — Guy Gordon, So Then What Exactly Is Branding?

Once any organisation starts communicating its identity via a consistent text and visual based strategy, it creates the opportunity for those who identitfy with the message to naturally align themselves with the organisation, and even relay the message to their own networks.

A Practical Understanding Of The Branding Process

In short, the journey towards organisational emotional intelligence can be described as knowing yourself, understanding others, and making it official. A good and practical EQ framework will answer the following three questions [and its subsets] about the organisation, the audience its trying to reach, and the practical steps to do it:

Who are we?

  • What is our core conviction?
  • What is our culture and personality?
  • To what purpose do we exist?

Who are we trying to reach?

  • What problem do they have?
  • Why do they have that problem?
  • How can that problem be solved?

How can be communicate that?

  • How do we communicate our identity?
  • How do we reach our target audience?
  • How do we know that we’ve succeeded?

In the corporate context, figuring out the purpose of an organisation should be done among those that lead and steer the main direction of the group. The principal reason for existence should be clear in all communication, whether it be at a 30,000 feet visionary level, or in matters as granular as office stationary and email sign-offs.

A brand is a group of people’s similar feelings and beliefs about a product, service, organisation or character. — Carl Dackö, The Branding Tool For Everything

When you integrate all these elements in efficient and effective ways, your own, unique brand personality will start to emerge.

OK, Then How Do We Actually Do It?

In Word

One of the best ways to materialise the purpose of the organisation, is to facilitate a session where the underlying understandings and perceptions of who we are and what we’re supposed to be doing in the world, can come to the surface. From there an irreducible purpose/value statement can be formulated, from which certain themes can be developed and expanded upon. Once we agree on the statement and themes, we can further develop specific messaging groups, which can then finally be compiled into the overarching brand story of the organisation.

In Pictures

Ideally, designing a visual representation of the brand will only commence at this point. Creating imagery and illustrative handles to anchor the brand and its message, is one of the most effective tools in establishing the identity in the hearts and minds of its audience. Whether it be a corporate identity as specific as a logo and font-type, or as general as an original stock photography album, the visual language of the brand should at best describe and support the brand story, and at worst never contradict it.

Being Intentional

Making sure the organisation communicates with intention and integrity, is as important as deciding on what it needs to communicate. Being disciplined in its communication across departments and diverse situations, will ensure the message is consistently the same, creating trust and a sense of stability in its audience. Compiling design and writing guides helps with not only creating those boundaries within the organisation, but also the freedoms needed to act quickly and effectively without bottlenecking the communication sign-off process.

Once the brand story is written, the visual elements are created, and the communication guides are established, the organisation will be ready to consistently apply its communication in clear and creative ways, across a variety of instances and platforms.

These are not only the first steps on how to become an integrated branded organisation, but also the journey towards consistently communicating with emotional intelligence, forging meaningful and sustainable connections with all stakeholders, leading to real world organisational growth.

If you’re ready to take practical steps towards improving your corporate communications, whether it includes strategies, plans or processes — make sure to subscribe below, or even better, contact us directly for some hands-on guidance. We have also developed a simple but effective communication framework that will enable your organisation to build meaningful [read: profitable!] and sustainable connections with all stakeholders. It is yours for free, if you’re interested.

If you’re in the Western Cape or Gauteng regions, lets meet — coffee is on us.



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Mynhardt van Pletsen

Mynhardt van Pletsen


Learning designer. Building KRAFT Learning Lab. Launching cohort 1.0 of Speaking Clearly.