If you ask your top customers to describe your corporate brand, what answers would you hear? Feeling anxious about the potential responses? What if the same question was asked of your potential clients, your employees or your field sales force? Even companies that start out with a strong brand message can witness a drift when the company expands products and services. If it’s confusing inside the company, it’s certainly confusing outside.
There is plenty of evidence that creating and keeping a strong corporate identity helps companies succeed. Survey research results from 720 executives showed that companies with a well-built identity gain 25% in average annual sales revenue compared to companies without a recognized corporate identity. Any corporate executive would be pleased with that level of annual sales growth. The chance of having that level of growth improves with a laser sharp focus for building, establishing and maintaining a solid corporate brand.
What three elements need to be considered when creating your brand to avoid a corporate identity crisis? Consider that influential corporate brands are logical to potential customers. They link together the value proposition, the way you create value and the products and services that deliver the value and for which your customers are willing to pay.
If these concepts seem familiar yet hard to achieve, they should. For his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins researched many companies to find what they do to become great. They blend their passion with their best skills sets and find ways to have customers reward these efforts.
The concepts seem simple and logical. So why are they so difficult to obtain and maintain on the long term? Instead of honing their best skills and carving out a market where customers would loyally reward them for the effort, they chase after every shiny trend and lose the focus and potentially the core advantages of their businesses. They can also be distracted by their growth and move off their core competencies into areas where they cannot compete effectively. They essentially lose their corporate identity.
To avoid the consequences of drifting off the corporate vision, first create a compelling vision and then tell everyone what that vision is. As the company gains customers and starts to grow, use the three components to pressure test new decisions. If the response is that some decision does not fit the model or corporate vision, just say no to doing it. Sticking with your vision will build a loyal following of customers who know, understand and love your brand. Notice that losing a corporate identity happens a little at a time, with each decision. To restore a powerful identity, each decision moving forward needs to put the identity back on track in the direction of that sweet spot where audacious goals reside.