The year has only just begun, but we are already in a news cycle of economic challenges, current and upcoming wars, election hype, and the GAI motherlode making humans unnecessary. There is truth to all of this, but it is not an absolute truth.
On the other hand, entrepreneurs and day-to-day managers like us continue to focus on where the opportunities for growth lie and pay less attention to the headlines, which often lack useful direction. From a human, environmental, and economic perspective, 2024 clearly has much to worry about and can even be overwhelming, but if you look hard enough, there is always hope, optimism, and opportunity. Masu.
Last year, I was invited to give a keynote speech on this growing topic at Web Summit (Europe’s largest annual technology and startup event) in Lisbon. I used this theme to combine some of my favorite topics. Business, creativity and branding. Web Summit is a place full of optimism and ideas about what’s possible and how business and technology can work together to create opportunities.
In my talk, I discussed how brands increase their value during the critical stages of growth that every business goes through. The journey from startup to survival, the process of scaling, the happy mountains of consolidation towards success, and the inevitable need to reinvent as growth slows or disappears.
It’s always a risk, but let’s assume we all share the same understanding of the brand. It’s more than just a logo, a series of messages, or an advertising campaign. Rather, it is a shortcut to understanding what an organization believes, represents, and delivers, and what it does, its products, and its services, whether its employees, customers, or simply the world at large. , and through the experience of interacting with the organization.
With this in mind, let’s imagine three simple concentric circles. At its core are ambitions, ideas and purpose that drive the organization to support short-term business goals and long-term goals. This provides the underlying platform for all the information provided by the organization.
The second circle identifies the role of the brand in helping to design and support the organization’s culture. That means inspiring, motivating, and directing people and systems not just to deliver the work, but to express the ideals captured at the core of the organization.
The outer circle represents how a company and brand appears in the outside world, i.e., all the experiences that occur through all interactions between that brand and all its audiences (customers, employees, shareholders, and other stakeholders). is. For some companies, this includes everything from their online presence to their customer service and physical space, to their marketing approach, to the stance they and their leaders take toward the world.
Brands are transformative vehicles in each of these rings, at different stages of the business lifecycle, and are especially powerful when all three work together holistically. Here are three examples in action, from early stages, through expansion and integration, to future updates.
Bite Back, a non-profit organization founded to campaign against the marketing of ultra-processed foods, is a great example of a young organization in its early stages of development. At this point, you’re fighting for attention, an audience, and usually profit for yourself. Financial feasibility. This stage requires a strong driving narrative and good storytelling, combined with an equally strong identity and communication approach to cut through, grab attention, and build connections.
By repositioning Bite Back 2030 as a youth activation movement, updating its branding and adopting the marketing strategies of targeted junk food giants, the campaign now has a high-impact approach supported by a powerful new communications toolkit. It has been. What they do and how they express themselves undoubtedly lies within the noisy background of other equally large movements seeking attention and influence.
Uber is a powerful demonstration of how brands can be leveraged as a vehicle for transformational growth during the scaling stage, when a business begins to grow rapidly.
Back in 2017, Uber was expanding rapidly but stalled due to reputational issues that arose during this period of accelerated growth, and the company was experiencing many of the typical symptoms of this exciting period. Ta. In other words, can our ideas, models, operating structures, leadership, and systems surpass our initial supersonic success?
By envisioning a future beyond a simple ride-hailing app, the company promoted a mobility platform that is a way to “own” mobility and all the possibilities that come with it. Evolving its position accordingly, the company introduced a new identity and toolkit that stays true to its business and caters to different global audiences with different needs.
At the same time, organizational leaders at this stage will be building and integrating “machines” that enable consistency while expanding through processes, policies, and decision-making structures. This can cover everything from safety protocols to implementing robust regulatory, legal, and human resources practices on a global scale.
Getting this right will ensure your organization is trusted and trusted over the long term, allowing you to become a publicly traded company with the potential for further investment, innovation and results as your competitors inevitably try to catch up or overtake you. Can be a candidate. . Brands often act as the glue that ties together overall ambition, direction and delivery, allowing you to connect with audiences across departments within and outside your organization.
So now we have reached the maturity cycle. That is, the organization is established and successful, but the market has potentially peaked, there is less room for cost reductions, and competition has weakened (often as a result of late entry into the market). infrastructure is lighter). ). This heralds a period of strategic review and renewal, which can take many forms, from major reinvention to simple portfolio focus and optimization.
GSK wanted to grow, but recognized that it was a mature business with a strong heritage and competitors following suit, and was looking to refresh its strategy. After separating the brands within its portfolio and building his two distinctly branded products, one for high street consumers and one for biopharmaceuticals, the company created a more direct and compelling brand proposition and expression for each. I decided to refine and build on it. By leveraging the power of its brand and doing so effectively, the company has moved from what was seen as a static, mature company to a new growth trajectory and a dynamic, focused market leader. I have transformed. This new focus, supported by our brand, translated into momentum through our people, value for consumers and customers, and results for our shareholders.
Brands continue to be one of an organization’s most valuable and often unrealized assets. But most of all, it is the red thread that will help you successfully transform your business as you navigate every staging post for growth from birth to rebirth.
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