The phone rang, and I could see on the lit screen that it was one of my regular clients. I checked my watch and decided I could take the call.
After the usual pleasantries, he asked me to give an assessment of a current project that had been kicked around between departments. I walked through the business objectives, connected the dots as to how to tie that specifically back to the brand, and made my recommendation on how to approach the project. I also laid out some ideas for how to share it with the larger community, in this case, current and prospective customers.
He responded, “Wow. See that’s thinking business. That brings a whole other element into this that other people aren’t bringing — they’re really only seeing it from their perspective.”
Here’s the thing about branders: we’re always looking at the big picture, working on getting the pieces aligned, and (if we’re any good) making sure those pieces drive the business forward.
The best brands realize that brand and business are the same things and that means your brander is actually a strategic business partner.
Branding Isn’t Just About Marketing
I’ve been in discussions with several clients lately that aren’t maximizing our ability to help them.
They did their branding initiative, and now they relegate us to marketing or even just design without realizing that we can and should be a part of conversations dealing with business strategy.
Having us in those conversations gives us the ability to help you make aligned and consistent decisions, especially when it comes to matching your words with your actions. This is important for all brands but is especially integral for purpose-driven ones.
We can also connect the dots and make recommendations on how to share changes, progress, and impact both internally and externally.
When your business and brand strategies hold hands, you can be more intentional, which allows you to concentrate your efforts and execute more productively.
Here’s How You Make Your Brander a Partner
Every brand is different, but there are four things that you can do now to make your brander a strategic business partner:
1. Find the right person or team.
Not every brander is suitable for every organization. Know if their approach and philosophy fit well with your organization and what matters to you. It’s also important that their working style meshes well with yours so that you move in sync.
2. Make sure your branding initiative takes your whole business into account.
So many people get focused on their new website or their new logo — whichever component is most tangible to them. They forget that the brand will become synonymous with the business, and that means input will be needed from across the organization, and plans should be made to engage the different areas immediately and over the long term.
3. Bring your partner in early and often.
When you’re starting something new, invite them to the meetings to be a part of the group brainstorming. They’ll bring essential perspective and likely open up opportunities.
4. Treat them as a partner.
Your brander won’t be a partner if you don’t treat them that way. You need to cultivate an atmosphere of trust and openness. One of the ways to do that is to schedule regular meetings, either one-on-one or with key c-suite members. This provides space to put everything on the table, share challenges, and explore solutions. It also keeps the brander updated on what the business is doing (not just the marketing department).
I’ve spent most of my career working with smaller companies and nonprofits. It surprises me, but most don’t bring in their brander as a partner despite the fact that they can do so more swiftly as they don’t have as much hierarchical red tape to manage.
If they did, the alignment and ultimate merge of the brand and business would happen more rapidly and more deeply, resulting in a distinction that customers (and communities) would more quickly love. That would catalyze both the brand and the company’s growth — which is what we all want.
With the number of organizations competing for hearts and dollars, having a strong brand — and a brand partner — can make the difference between permanent obscurity and measurable impact.
Bring your brander to the table, so more of your pieces are running in the right direction.