Branding is often seen as a marketing and communication issue. There is much more to it: A corporate brand is the collective identity of a company, division or business unit. It concerns everyone. However, many organizations who once had strong identities have lost them over time. Brand building turns out to be not so easy.
Brand building as important leadership task
Leaders have to ask themselves: Do we as a group of people know who we are and what we stand for? There is nothing more powerful than a group of people passionately taking a stance.
Brand identity and what it means
When it comes to corporate branding the key concept is ‘brand identity’. While everyone is talking about it, it is often understood very mechanically as if you could design and control the identity. A more realistic view is that the brand identity is an outcome of relationships. It concerns everyone. It is something that emerges out of the interaction between all people of the organization and the customers. Since it is a highly emotional and social phenomena, you cannot manage it technically. That is why it is challenging to work on the identity, but if you want to have a strong brand, this task needs to be done.
The need for a different leadership approach
Many branding initiatives lead to well-designed and appealing brand communication. But still they fail, because the result is experienced as shallow or meaningless by too many people in the organization. Why does this happen? Too often the internal process of introducing a new brand is conducted as one-way communication. It easily comes down to trying to force the own idea on people. That doesn’t work. People will resist. Because they are the brand and claim to have a say. A much more productive way is to apply involvement techniques which give people the opportunity to discuss, reflect and create meaning. Managers often fear such a process and avoid it accordingly. But that doesn‘t bring them in control. Instead it leaves the organization with a brand and an identity which are nowhere near enough as inspiring and energizing as they could be.