Whether you’re a federal agency, a multinational corporation, a nonprofit, or a small business, your brand is what drives you forward. It’s the promise you keep and the characteristics that set you apart. It’s the connection and inspiration that builds a bond of trust with those who matter most to you. It is, above all else, your most important asset.
In times of radical change, brands are put to the test. Asymmetric events and new technologies can force organizations to evolve so quickly that everything they once took for granted may no longer apply. Many do not survive—and those fortunate enough to make it through are often shadows of their former selves. But what about those who not only survive, but thrive through major transformations? What’s different about them?
Championing Brand-Led Transformation
Organizations that thrive in dynamic change are the ones that deeply understand and embody their brands—embedding them in everything they do. Their values and purpose play a critical role in strengthening them for transformation. These organizations understand the power of brand and know that contradicting their core principles may lead to short-term gain but will inevitably end in failure.
The Time to Position for Transformation is Now
The pace of disruption and technological change is so fast that addressing your organization’s brand is often the last consideration in a seemingly endless number of priorities. This is inverse to an approach that will lead to success. Ask yourself these questions: How does any new initiative support your brand? And how do you ensure that throughout every stage, your brand is communicated and understood?
“Brand” in this context does not refer to your identity or marketing, but rather the fundamental signals of purpose and commitment that should shine through everything you do. Radical change requires so much from employees and customers that without the guiding force of a meaningful brand, it’s easy to derail.
U.Group has helped countless organizations navigate change through powerful brand systems that serve as guiding forces to transformation. These systems adapt to the dynamics of change with flexible, durable, and determined positioning that increases organizational strength.
These are the three main steps you can use to give shape to your own transformation process:
Step 1: Focus Your Brand for Transformation
Who are you? Why are you here? These may seem like simple questions, but they are deeply complex. In most organizations, the answers have gotten lost in the shuffle of day-to-day activity and the ongoing evolution and abstraction that every growing organization experiences.
During transformation, these questions come into sharp relief as roles are redefined and systems redesigned. If you ask these questions of individuals in your organization, you’ll likely get very different answers—which is a powerful sign that your brand has lost its focus.
If you ask these questions of individuals in your organization, you’ll likely get very different answers.
When restructuring brands for transformation, our teams engage in a focused and high-speed process that surfaces truly unique brand characteristics, fundamental promises, and core values that serve as the DNA to strengthen your organization.
Using a transformational lens, we can access the most critical brand components and— with CRISPR-like precision—remove damaging components that work against your organization and compromise your market position, team productivity, and ability to transform.
This process requires a deep examination of organizational vision, objectives, external perceptions, cultural dynamics, and beliefs. The result is a brand platform that empowers and motivates your team, stakeholders, constituents, and customers to serve as allies and partners in your success.
Step 2: Define Your Transformative Commitment
What do you stand for? What is the line you will not cross? Transformative brands define their commitments and stick to them. This requires assessing culture, customer experience, and product/service attributes to make clear decisions around what you will, and more importantly, will not do.
One of the most destructive forces working against organizations is the propensity to add distracting activities that broaden reach and dim focus. The more disciplined your focus and the clearer your commitments, the more attractive you will be to the audiences that matter.
Transformative brands define their commitments and stick to them.
The most successful brands dial the level of their commitment to a point where it causes discomfort. Having a clearly defined commitment serves as a powerful guide to business decision making, forcing organizations to leave potentially lucrative opportunities on the table that undermine their brand position. Demonstrating this level of discipline and focus is critical to building committed communities that will not only drive your success, but also support you through your most difficult challenges.
Step 3: Empower a Transformative Culture
Who matters to you? How do you empower your audience? Change-driven organizations understand that they can’t govern their brands alone. They know it’s imperative to empower a community of ambassadors and influencers with a sense of ownership and pride through transformation-led brand strategies and platforms. Platforms that have the power to mitigate the anxiety of radical change and replace it with optimism inspired by a shared sense of purpose and commitment to values and vision.
Having a clear understanding of your brand fundamentals and commitments is necessary, but not enough on their own to position yourself for transformation. These critical elements must be woven into brand strategies and platforms that drive action.
Mitigate the anxiety of radical change and replace it with optimism inspired by a shared sense of purpose.
Successful strategies consider day-to-day actions that keep your brand front-and-center in all your activities. It should express the unique ways your brand will be communicated, embedded, and leveraged across your organization and stakeholders.
Your brand platform will support your strategy by serving as a centralizing force where the most important components are carefully framed and made available. It includes both the story of your brand and a structured repository of assets and guidance that allows for ease of use and dissemination.
Transformational brands use their strategy and platform to effectively govern their activities so that there is no disconnect between their brand and the products, services, and experiences they create.
Let Your Brand be Your Guide to Transformation
It’s more important than ever for your organization to react and respond to change. Knowing when to pivot and having a brand with the power to guide you is fundamental to success. The good news is that starting now is the right time. It doesn’t matter whether you’re knee deep in modernization or planning for the future—you can scale an effective brand process to fit your context and needs. And once embedded, it will pay dividends, allowing you to keep growing and adapting in a continuously changing landscape.