Why ‘why’? — Brand Ethos
14 October 2013

Why ‘why’?

Getting to the heart of an organisational brand
When thinking about their brands, organisations, or at least the people who work in them, ask about the what, the how and the who. But rarely ask about the why

Why. Not what

It is easy to say, ‘we do this stuff in this way for these people so that in the future we will achieve this’. Yet, why we do it is a bit more difficult to answer. When thinking about a brand’s purpose, the question to ask is, ‘why do we get up in the morning?’ Why are we motivated to get through the day to do the things we do?

Companies that say, ‘it’s not about us, it’s about the products’ forget that people trust people. You can only truly engage with other people, not products, and, just like our friends, we are attracted to people who share our beliefs and have the same aspirations. Why we do what we do allows us to achieve our ambitions.

Why. Not how

So, here’s something for room 101. Organisations don’t ‘own’ their brand. Sure, they can manage it. In fact, you could say that a lot of ‘brand management’ is nothing more than propaganda. But, the truth will out. I believe we are beginning to see this now. Social media including blogging means that everyone is a publisher, a reporter, an opinion shaper. Some of those people will be customers, service users, members, donors, whatever, and some will be employees, volunteers, the management.

And this is important because some organisations that say it’s all about the products have people in them saying that not paying taxes is OK, cartels are alright, turning a blind eye to outsourced manufacturers’ poor employee rights is acceptable. And most people—I have to assume most people—would say that these things aren’t acceptable. No wonder these companies say, it’s all about the products.

Why. Not who

The branding section in room 101 is going to get pretty full.

If I asked you how many brands do you think you have, and you say, ‘well, one of course’, then, I would agree. From the viewpoint of your customers, your suppliers and your partners, there is only one brand. Some people wear different hats, all at the same time. Employee, customer, shareholder, member, volunteer. Why would the brand be any different? The reasons to be part of the brand, associate with it, advocate it, are because they see the brand as one thing. They only see ‘the why’, not the who.

So, out with internal values and the employer brand. Ditch the member brand and City brand. It’s one brand, inside and out. One reason why.

This blog first appeared as a guest blog at www.claremont.org.uk

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