I attended an inspiring luncheon today, hosted by the Network of Executive Women. The speaker, Lori Darley, is a leadership coach who helps executives claim their power as conscious leaders. Lori has developed a process called the ‘clearing,’ a self-awareness activity that helps you direct your energy, ground your commitments and take a powerful stand for what’s most important. This process starts by gaining clarity, one of the most important attributes of a conscious, innovative leader. Not surprisingly, we go through a similar process in branding that also begins with gaining clarity.
I’ve talked about this before. But strong brands have what we call the three “C’s.” These strong brands can charge premium pricing. They are the ones that thrive during economic downturns. And they ultimately attract great employees and customers too. I define the three C’s of branding as: clarity, consistency and connection.
To be successful, a brand has to stand for a unique promise. Marketers often call this promise the ‘point of difference’ or the ‘unique selling proposition.’ According to Lori, a conscious leader would call it a ‘purpose.’ Regardless of what you call it, it’s what makes a brand different from the competition. And to have clarity in a brand’s promise, it needs to be something that is concise, unique and authentic.
Speaking of authenticity, the next attribute for a successful brand is consistency. Your brand point of difference must also be something that comes to life at every point of contact. Lori talked about conscious leaders taking ownership and living into that authenticity. So, from your front line employees to the back office, the entire organization needs to know what your brand stands for and consistently live out that promise in their jobs every day. This is one of the key ways to drive loyalty and preference from the end user of your products or services.
Last but not least, we have the critical attribute of connection. Your brand can be crystal clear about what it is and what it stands for while also consistently communicating this point of difference at every contact with your target audience. However, if what your brand stands for and communicates to your target is not compelling and relevant to their needs and desires, you will fail to connect. After all, it’s ultimately this relevance and connection that will compel action or purchase of your brand. To ensure that you can effectively meet the needs and desires of your target, you must have mechanisms for listening to them. This could be through social listening, a customer panel or a proprietary brand study. Lori also talked about conscious leaders being intentional listeners instead of automatic listeners. The main difference is in listening to hear rather than listening to respond. The same principle is true for brands. Marketers must listen to their customers and be open to their feedback, rather than focusing on their immediate response and trying to connect what they hear to what they already know.
If you want to build a successful brand, it’s important that you pass the three C’s test with flying colors. By ensuring that your brand has the three C’s, you’ll be well on your way to a successful future as a ‘conscious’ brand.