vs. Brand Harmony
on this newsletter at yastrow.com
One of the most powerful forces in the universe is entropy, the tendency for systems to move progressively from states of organization to states of more disorganization and diffusion. Stick an ice crystal in a warm room, and you will soon have a pool of water. You may organize all of the toys on a child's shelf, but over time they will inevitably end up scattered on the floor... unless you continually fight the entropy and return the toys to their proper places.
Similarly, no matter how well your company is creating a strong experience of brand harmony for your customers today, with complementary experiences communicating a clear and compelling story, ongoing attention is required to ensure that brand entropy doesn't take over.
The reason for this is simple-- there are thousands of possible ways that any particular customer/product interaction can happen, but only a small number of those possibilities are appropriate for the brand story you are trying to communicate. Without strategic and deliberate efforts to maintain a strong experience of brand harmony for your customers, odds are that your organization will stray from the story, and customer experiences will move further and further away from what you intend. And, if that happens, your customers will have fewer reasons to stay engaged with you.
Entropy in the universe is constantly pushing systems to disintegration, not integration. When you create brand harmony, you are working against some powerful, universal forces. That's why you need to be strategic and deliberate in your efforts to create and maintain brand harmony.
Here are the keys to fighting brand entropy:
Be able to answer the questions "Who do we intend to be?" and "Why do we have a right to exist?"
Brand harmony requires a powerful, shared idea of where you are headed as an organization and what value you provide to the world. The answers to these questions are catalysts that bring together everything you do under a common mission.
Traditional mission and vision statements usually don't aim this high. They frequently include platitudes such as "We seek to serve our customers with integrity" and "We will be the preferred supplier in our market space," which are not clear and differentiated enough to fight the forces of brand entropy. Set the bar high, and ensure that you can answer these two questions with passion and precision.
"Who we intend to be," serves as a beacon guiding your team to the future. "Why we have a right to exist," describes the value you provide to the world. If you can't answer these questions, it's very hard to move forward.
Be sure that everyone in your company believes in your idea "Who we intend to be" and "Why we have a right to exist."
Defining the answers to these questions will do you little good if these definitions are known only by a small number of people. Brand harmony is an all-company affair, because everyone -- yes everyone -- in your organization impacts the customer experience. Everyone needs to believe in your answers to these questions and have those answers guide the ways they do their jobs. Get specific: help people understand their personal roles in creating the powerful customer experience that fuels your future.
Build your customer experience around your brand
This is the most obvious -- and often neglected -- principle of brand harmony. Companies give lip service to having a clear idea of what their brand means, but then don't infuse their brand story into the interactions customers have with their company.
You can only succeed, and become the company you intend to be, if your customers love you, become more involved with you, and act in ways that drive your success. We live in a crowded, noisy world, and customers will only come to love you (or even notice you) if the experiences they have with you create a strong sense of brand harmony.
Entropy makes your hair get messy by the end of the night and turns the Roman Coliseum into ruins. It influences the remains of dead stars to diffuse throughout the galaxy and turns your desk into chaos by the end of the week. Entropy will get the best of you if you let your guard down and don't work hard to counteract its force. Put special attention into nurturing and maintaining the brand harmony you create for your customers, or brand entropy will take over and muddle the experiences customers have with you. Once that happens, it will be very difficult to become the company you intend to be.
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