This blog post is one in a series of eight articles that explore the most important characteristics of a strong leader. These articles are linked to a Prezi visual presentation, which you can view here.
You - the Primary Brand Builder
Strong brands are a direct reflection of strong leadership. Just like your physical health and outward appearance are a direct reflection of what you eat, how you care for yourself, and your state of mind, so is your brand a direct reflection of your culture, your investment in your people and your customers, and the disciplines you follow to maintain a healthy, positive, innovative company. So your role as the primary brand builder for your business is one of your most important responsibilities.
I like to refer to brand (as a concept) as a promise, but more importantly, it’s a promise kept. A brand is the shorthand for an identity. We can't completely control our identity, because we can't control the customer’s perception of the brand. But we can greatly control perceptions through consistency. If everything you do in your business - from the way you speak to one another to the way you put tape on your shipments or bows on your bags - is consistent with your brand identity, then your customers will learn to trust your brand.
The type of consistency that leads to brand trust comes from being consistent from person to person and from message to message within your organization. This can only be achieved when it is cultivated, fostered, and modeled by strong leaders. The leader's job is to set the vision and constantly reinforce the understanding of and attachment to that vision throughout the organization. The more clarity your organization shares about your vision and goals, the better your people - and therefore your operations, marketing, sales, training, manufacturing, and planning - will align themselves to achieve that vision. Clarity leads to alignment, alignment leads to consistency, consistency leads to trust, and trust equals brand.
Take some time to reflect on the things you do to strengthen your brand. Identify areas in which you are undermining your brand or simply not paying attention to it. Your company is making promises every day - in the form of behaviors, messages, visuals, and services, and in every type of communication from face-to-face interactions to social media. The importance of your role as brand builder cannot be overstated.