by Tanika Vital-Pringle, Global MBA, MCIM
There are a plethora of proven ways to differentiate your brand, but you can actually focus on strategically building an iconic brand as a means to achieving powerful differentiation. Fully conducting research on your target customer segments and using psychographic methods to form insights is a precursor to going deep with brand building.
Thus, there are four branding hacks that I suggest that you focus on to begin the process of building an iconic brand: Purpose, Prevision, Personality and Promise. This article will focus on the first two: Purpose and Prevision.
Rebirth is about growth for your brand that leads to improvement. All businesses can benefit from hacks that, when applied appropriately and in the proper order, can result in growth for the enterprise or organization in a short time.
The branding hacks that will be shared have been used on top brands and start-ups to successfully bring them to life when coupled with additional strategic moves. When developed and executed properly within the organization and externally with customers, these hacks cause rebirth.
You might have reflected on the concept of purpose on a personal level at some point in your life. For some, purpose comes up when determining your next career or relationship move. Well, it is a very essential topic in the organizational context as it relates to brand and it’s important to have a firm grasp for how it aligns with other more talked-about aspects of an organization.
Purpose has been a hot topic in branding and organizational development for some time now. It is said to be an organization's why or a bold affirmation of its reason for being in business. Another way to describe organizational purpose is the overarching reason for existing. It is something that will never reach its full potential. It is the ideal that you will always strive toward.
Many metaphorically refer to purpose as the North Star. Having it assures that you have a guide and are headed in the right direction. If you travel from New York to California or South Africa to Ghana without a guide (or a pilot), it will likely be a challenging journey. You can still very well make it to California or Ghana but you will likely get lost along the way, take routes you wish you’d avoided, and run into some detours.
That would not be the most efficient way to make your journey. Alternatively, having a North Star as your guide would enable you to make more well-informed choices and reach your destination with less frustration, better safety, and utilizing fewer resources.
Establishing and operating from an anchor of purpose can create a competitive advantage for your brand. Furthermore, purpose-driven brands have a stronger affinity for being authentic and that should be your goal.
So, what does a solid organizational purpose statement actually look like?
Let’s take a look at two great purpose statements from some companies you are likely to know.
Female-founded apparel and footwear company, Spanx, has a great brand purpose,
“To help women feel great about themselves and their potential.“
That is a powerful statement and provides the latitude to continually expand the product offering to accommodate the ever-growing (and never-ending) needs for women to feel great about themselves.
Spanx founder and self-made billionaire, Sara Blakely, is an inspiration for many women because she solved a problem that many of us experience—daily wardrobe woes. Since its inception in 1998[JS1] , this American brand has grown from its retail shops in Atlanta, GA to expansion into more than fifty countries.
American fast-food restaurant chain, Chick-fil-A, has a purpose that drives them internally and it is also in the public eye. Chick-fil-A’s stated purpose is
“To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.”
Most people know about Chick-fil-A’s schedule which is unusual for the restaurant industry. Being closed on Sundays, Chick-fil-A believes they are supporting employees while driving their purpose. There are even optional Monday morning devotions at the corporate headquarters site in College Park, GA.
This brand, which has a franchise business model, realizes that people join cultures and not just companies when they seek employment. Their stated core values reflect their purpose statement and they foster a culture of care for their employees and customers.
Constructing your company vision or prevision is a key step in creating the future for your brand. A prevision is a strategic and emotionally compelling picture in your mind's eye of the way things could be in the days ahead. It should be bold, audacious, and concise. Like vision, prevision concentrates on the future. It focuses on thinking ahead rather than on dwelling upon or seeking to replicate the past. Prevision describes what the future of your brand will look like; it does not detail how you will get there.
"Prevision reflects a realistic perspective; it is not dreaming the impossible dream, but dreaming the most possible dream."
The Prevision statement should be developed in a two-part process. The first step involves the development of the Prevision Portrait (paragraph) before moving on to the actual Prevision 7.0 statement. Developing the Prevision Portrait is a whole-brained activity, meaning that it involves using both sides of your brain or the rational and the irrational. It is also a time to brainstorm with no limits which is better known as blue sky thinking. In many cases, the Prevision Portrait forms the basis for an imaginative brand manifesto statement.
Speaking in colorful and inspirational language helps to create the magical pull of branding that draws or magnetizes others to your brand. That Prevision Portrait document should not exceed one page in length and should look seven years out.
Sony developed this “Prevision Portrait”-like statement back in the 1950s.
This prevision portrait statement resulted in Sony's Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) Prevision statement over 20 years ago.
“To become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products”.
So, Sony’s Prevision statement fully encapsulated the Prevision Portrait in a fairly succinct way. More importantly, Sony has unequivocally achieved its Prevision. Today, the Sony brand is synonymous to quality and innovation in Electronics, Entertainment and Gaming. Keep in mind that if you are already doing these things, then it is a mission, previsions are forward-looking.
Let's look at Cloud Media, based in Hyderabad, India. It is a (fictitious) woman-owned company owned by Anjali Patel, Managing Director of Cloud Media. Cloud Media's Prevision Portrait resulted in this Prevision statement:
"To become the #1 media company in terms of circulation that will connect both domestic and diasporic Indian professionals who crave tri-lingual content that will help them thrive.”
Businesses (particularly Women-Owned Businesses) who want to create sustainable and powerful differentiation must focus on branding. It’s just that simple. In most cases, branding for both femmepreneurships (women-owned businesses) and smaller enterprises is an afterthought. The primary focus is on marketing (pushing content out) while focusing on features and benefits. Consider implementing the aforementioned branding hacks (Purpose + Prevision) as a means of strengthening your brand infrastructure and achieving powerful differentiation.