Business has changed radically since Milton Freidman wrote in Capitalism and Freedom (1962) that there is “one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits”
The changes in our digital environment – increased globalisation, new technologies, and radical socio-political shifts – mean the world of business looks nothing like it did back in the 1960s. And now the Corona Virus epidemic will undoubtedly further impact the forces that drive business.
These shifts cement the trend away from pure profit-focused business towards purpose-led organisations.
Stakeholders at all levels in businesses want to set a purpose beyond the balance sheet – one that contributes a positive impact in the wider world.
Business for Good
Businesses today are finding that doing good can also mean doing well. Apparently, companies with an established sense of purpose – one that’s measured in terms of social impact, such as community growth, rather than by reference to a bottom-line figure – outperformed the S&P 500 index by 10 times between 1996 and 2011.”
90% of executives recognize the importance of having “an aspirational reason for existing which inspires and provides a call to action for an organization as well as benefiting society.
What is your purpose? It’s an essential element of your brand to identify. It’s not easy and requires time to think through.
Once you’ve determined your purpose it’s important to make it drive every aspect of your business. It mustn’t just be a laudable statement that’s bandied around.
Corona Virus Crisis Impacts Everyone Differently
While the Corona Virus crisis will undoubtedly kill some small businesses stone dead, those that survive will be looking for the best of forward thinking to help them thrive and stand out in an uncertain, fast changing, and competitive environment.
Designing your business with purpose at its core is the right starting point. Thinking through your brand deeply over the next year or so to set your brand strategy will help you to achieve a much stronger brand.
We’ve set up our BrandTuned Facebook group to support businesses during this difficult period. Our gift to you is to support you during 2020 as you grapple with questions around what to do in the face of the Covid-19 crisis or if you’re working to rebuild your business.
Brand plays centre stage in good business design, and it can take as much as 6-12 months to do all the soul searching and thinking that’s involved in creating a unique brand strategy and stories as part of your business design.
Take advantage of this opportunity to increase your understanding of how to achieve a strong brand using intellectual property and a clear brand strategy.
Contrary to popular belief, brand should not be a design led activity.
One of the biggest mistakes is to equate brand with a visual identity
Brand is not a logo. It’s your company ethos, and strategy. So, leave the visual identity phase of branding till much later. During 2020 just focus on rethinking your brand. You’ll have plenty of time in 2021 to get the visual identity in place in order to take advantage of the upswing in the economy that we’re likely to experience by mid-2021. The only exception is if you have products and need to change the label on them, for example because you’re selling something else or using a new name. Then you will need to progress the design sooner.
But apart from such exceptional reasons, it’s one of the biggest mistakes I see to turn to design as soon as people reinvent aspects of their business and brand.
I caught myself about to make that knee jerk reaction when I was rethinking my business last year. I was turning it from a regulated law firm to a non-regulated law firm that also supports business with their brand strategy. We are all so inclined to assume that we need new designs way before we have deeply thought through our brand strategy because we’re still in 20th century thinking mode.
So, hold back from changing your designs. In the 21st century that we are being catapulted into more rapidly by this Corona Virus, brand is no longer a design led activity. It’s an intellectual property, and business structure led activity.
As we go deeper into this crisis and emerge from it at the other end make sure you think about your brand in the right way, designing it with IP at its heart as you nail your brand strategy.
Don’t be impatient. It takes time to know how to best structure your business. If you already have a brand, it’s unlikely any of your tweaks to the business model will necessitate an immediate need for a new visual look so avoid the temptation to initiate new designs. Just carry on your business and work on it by refining your brand over the next year.
Purpose – Your Why
Thinking about your “why” both on a personal level and on a business level will help you to align the two when designing your business.
I’ve developed a holistic framework for structuring a business for success and developing its brand strategy which is the subject of my new book ‘BrandTuned, How To Perfect, Protect and Promote your Brand’ This will be available in 2021.
Using brand, marketing and IP thinking, the book helps you to develop a well-considered brand strategy and identity that resonates with your ideal market before you turn to visual identity at the very end of it all.
My framework is call TUNED each letter of which signifies the following statement:
Think IP First!
Understand your ideal client!
Name it right!
Establish your Brand Strategy!
Driving the brand strategy!
Get into the right mindset now by doing some introspection. Consider your values, what you stand for, and your why. What sort of culture do you want to create within your business?
The future when we emerge from this world crisis will be fast moving. Think about how you will create the right culture, and how you will instil that culture into a remote team now so that you have the basic tools in place to train your people as you recruit new team members in future once we fully emerge from this lock down and the economy is booming.
The world’s top brands are created in an inter-disciplinary way. The silo approach which currently prevails in branding, that treats IP and brand as separate subjects does not serve business well. It often adds to costs and does not include IP thinking at the right time.
Once you have nailed your strategy, and your visual identity designed promote the business externally and internally. Do so to convey your brand promise and purpose and to recruit and equip like-minded team members to make ‘on brand’ decisions.
We are all collectively still in shock as a result of the changes brought about to our lives since mid-March. Depending on the business you are in, you may have to identify whether there are innovations available to you. You may need to adapt and adjust your business model just to keep it afloat.
It may be that your business, like mine, was already adapted to be digital and lends itself to remote delivery. The work you need to do is to better understand your customers’ needs right now during this crisis and beyond. What adjustments could you make to your products and services, or what new offerings could you introduce to serve some of your customers?
I will be working with you to disrupt the traditional silo approach to branding, so you don’t miss opportunities to create ownable, distinctive IP. Among other things, I will help you to:
- define your brand
- identify your ideal client
- decide on the brand promise that will motivate your ideal client to choose your business
- to pick a name that will put you “front of mind”
- to ensure the name and other brand elements you choose are “ownable” and distinctive
- to establish a road map to grow your business.
JOIN BrandTuned Facebook Group
Join the BrandTuned Facebook group to continue the conversation around your IP and brand and most importantly to support you to implement your learnings.