“Now brands will need to operate at the intersection of culture, purpose and society.”
– ‘Trust, the new brand equity’, Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, June 2021 – cited in NWC’s Brand Culture
Your brand is not your logo.
Nor is it just your website, stationery, corporate colours, or other ‘official’ communications of the company identity. A brand that builds trust and truly works for the business starts with clear, authentic messaging about who you are and what value you bring. These messages must be owned by everyone in the organisation… your people are your best representatives of the brand, because if they are unclear or inconsistent, no shiny wrapping like a flashy website or fancy building will maintain a good impression for long!
Your brand must be interwoven with your culture, in order to build real brand trust with internal and external stakeholders alike. As you can see, this starts from the top, but must also involve everyone in the organisation in ways that are meaningful to them.
A strong brand strategy consists of the core decisions and messages that things like logos, websites and sales conversations need to communicate… and these elements should not be siloed, but work together right across the organisation. Most importantly, a brand should be a reflection of – and communicated by – your people.
Leaders can develop a true Brand Strategy that incorporates all levels of branding: the individual (Personal Branding); each office, unit or department (Team Identity); the brand strategy to attract and keep great staff (Employer Branding); and the overarching organisational brand and its connection to culture (Organisation Brand-Culture). At the centre of all these puzzle pieces must be your organisation’s Purpose, Vision, Values and Strategy.
Making use of tools through which to understand Brand and its connection to Culture, as it is expressed by the individuals at your organisation, offers a fresh lens to see how trust is built through brands, and allows you to create a ‘net’ to catch the inconsistencies and areas of challenge that can break down brand trust.
From there, planning frameworks can assist you to identify priorities and move forward. This is what it looks like to take a truly strategic approach to your Company Brand and use it to build trust with internal and external stakeholders and audiences.
“Teams that confidently know who they are and what they bring to stakeholders can quickly and effectively engage others.”
Remember, it isn’t enough to design a fantastic website and marketing materials. Your brand is ultimately built by your people, and this affects how stakeholders such as customers, investors, current and future staff, and wider audiences see your organisation.