Tying yourself closely to your brand in the early stages of your business deserves proper consideration.
Last month we held a brand workshop as a part of the GEC Business Series. We facilitated a group of forward-thinking entrepreneurs using group discussions and practical tasks to generate insights on their current branding position and impact within their market.
Part of this workshop involved a series of self-reflection exercises, which challenged the participants to look at:
Interestingly, the majority of participants acknowledged that their personality is intertwined with their brand image, but not everyone wanted this to be the case going forward.
Due to limited marketing resources, it’s not unusual for founders to rely on passion and personality to sell their business. In some instances, these traits strongly appeal to their audience segment and its important to understand if they are connecting with the founder or the brand. If scale is the objective, it’s worth taking the time to identify what these positive traits are and actively assimilating them into the brand strategy so its success isn’t reliant on one person but on a set of values and attributes that can be shared by a larger team.
As an example, the group reflected on the brand image of the Happy Pear. The lifestyle choices portrayed by the twins Dave and Steve underpin and mirror everything their brand stands for: health, wellbeing and happiness. All the Happy Pear products feed into this clear and unambiguous worldview while the twins' behaviour fully supports it. Because their public profile is intrinsically linked to the brand’s profile, they are at the center of all marketing and PR activity. This approach has resulted in a consistently strong and authentic brand experience with hundreds and thousands of loyal social media followers and fans who share their mindset and consequently connect with the brand.
Tying yourself closely to your brand in the early stages deserves proper consideration. It’s worth assessing how prominent a role you want to play in fronting your business and how that might influence perception of your brand. For example, our workshop participants reflected on Ryanair as a brand and how closely it’s related to the public persona portrayed by former CEO, Michael O’Leary. In recent years, O’Leary has notably stepped out of the limelight and the company has invested significant budget to change its marketing message and promote itself as an easy, cheerful and approachable service provider. Despite Ryanair’s efforts, it was agreed by our participants that O’Leary's hard-nosed attitude is still strongly associated with the brand.
During the group reflection exercise, Airbnb was discussed as a company that has successfully positioned itself as a ‘brand for all’. This sparked off a passionate debate about company values and follow through. No participant related the business to Brian Chesky (CEO & founder) as he doesn’t front Airbnb’s public image. Airbnb seems to be recognised more for the service it provides rather than any obvious brand traits or values.
So whether it’s a new or established business, we draw owners’ awareness to the role they’re playing, how their behaviour might influence brand perception or whether they need to step out of their own way. If there are traits that don’t come naturally to a founder that are relevant and important for the brand image, they can be easily found in others. It’s just a matter of understanding what is missing before you start trying to find it.