Creating Brand Harmony
Can you build a strong, enduring brand portraying jobs most people find repulsive? Mike Rowe did it. His Discovery Channel series Dirty Jobs and his CNN program Somebody’s Gotta Do It have positioned Rowe as a relentless advocate for the value of hard work and the importance of careers in the trades. Few people know that this trade activist, spokesperson, and philanthropist got his “voice” as a professional opera singer and a David Letterman type on-air host for the home shopping network QVC.
Josh Miller, COO and Derrick Hoog, Vice President of Strategy at 5by5 – a Change Agency see Rowe as an example of someone who has used an effective branding process—assessment, creating brand harmony, and driving a brand to build the strong brand presence he enjoys today. They recently shared their branding insights in an interview.
When Miller and Hoog begin the branding process with an individual or company, they don’t start with a blank page. They ask the client to describe who they are, what they want to leverage and optimize, and what they want to communicate to a market. If the client feels they have “nothing to brand,” Josh and Derrick ask the client to talk about the problems they want to fix and the solutions they bring. The visual elements of branding emerge from this clear understanding of who a client is and the value they bring to the market.
An executive wanting to create a strong brand identity, begins at the same place—knowing and defining what problems he/she solves and how they do it. By the time an executive reaches a career mid-point, it is likely the leader has built a reputation—the foundation of a brand, as someone skilled in M&A integrations, someone that drives revenue growth, or someone who has a way of creating order out of corporate chaos. When built on delivered results, that reputation becomes the foundation for a brand.
Brand harmony pulls the brand message and communication mediums together so what is discovered in the assessment phase becomes the primary message to a market, reinforced by visual elements consistent with the individual’s or company’s identity. Josh & Derrick state that brand harmony means knowing who you are at the core and what you want to do. You then ensure “the brand agrees at all levels . . . you are the same person in every place. What you say and do is consistent.”
For an executive, this harmony is demonstrated by ensuring the same message in a resume, a results-focused biography, a direct and engaging LinkedIn profile, and social media communication—all the time. An executive building a strong brand recognizes that companies and people will use what they see on any platform, at any time to determine if someone is who they say they are and a fit for a potential role.
Driving a Brand
At a personal level, driving a brand requires using objective exercises and questions to “sift through all the different versions of truth” to map out a client’s story. In highly competitive markets, differentiation in driving a brand comes through the way an individual or company delivers what they promise. Derrick and Josh point out that when two companies—or individuals have the same solution, they create differentiation by answering, “Why do you want to do it?” Answering “why” creates the energy needed to drive a brand in a competitive market.
A brand needs clarity and reach to achieve its purpose. An effective branding process helps an executive determine the message to convey and create the best medium to reach the intended audience. From a sewer to the C-suite, branding is about knowing who you are and finding the best way to tell your message to the people who need to hear it.