A new marketing campaign. Eye-catching graphics. Pithy and pointed copy. Selling propositions based on solid customer insights. It seems like everything is lined up for success. Then…the campaign never gets off the ground. Why? Because it failed to get INTERNAL support and it landed like a thud in presentation. Did the CMO have too much on their plate getting the campaign together to do the internal research to ensure the campaign had support? Did the C-suite not take the time to engage in the process? Was everybody just too busy to care about the brand? Shame.
It doesn’t matter if a branding effort seems perfect for customers if it’s not embraced by your company. If the message is out of sync with how your internal team thinks about the brand (if they’ve thought about the brand at all) it creates a whole host of problems. The CFO won’t fund it. The CEO will shy away from talking about it publicly. The sales team won’t adopt it. And suddenly, the marketing department is the lone fan in the stands. Everyone else has left before halftime.
Most marketers know the internal team has to buy into a new brand identity for it to gather momentum. Unfortunately, that often translates into C-level updates, not outright participation. Successful marketers have to make the internal team integral to the CREATION of the new brand message. They have to be corralled to become active participants in the process. And it has to be presented as one of the best things they can do for the company. Developing a brand is like nurturing a child. It takes a company.
Everyone in your company has a feeling about the company and the product or service it offers. They have opinions. They’d like to be heard. And they should be. Especially at core brand creation. The sessions where emotions and opinions and insights and anecdotes put skin on the brand bones. We’re not saying you have to bring the company together to design a logo, but your designer had better use all the information from the sessions to design and present it.
Bringing teams together to collaborate on brand purpose and position is the best way to achieve actionable consensus on the most important, core aspect of your business. Once leaders can agree on why the company exists and why anybody should care, they can lead better, sell better, and make better products. This newly and widely agreed upon purpose becomes the foundation for everything that follows. Your teammates will actually see the impact it has on the company.
When compartmentalized individuals in an organization become a brand creation team, they bring significance to the process, and because they had a stake in the creation, they have every reason to support it. Consensus does that. Everyone’s brains in are in sync. Literally. A recent study showed that getting people together to hash out differing opinions ends up making their brain activity aligned.
The study also shows that having ‘blowhards’ that dominate the conversation can disrupt the drive to consensus. Someone has to moderate the process to make sure all of the ideas are aired and heard, and that no one imposes their will on others. If one C-level person shouts down the entire group, there is no consensus on brand. Just that one person’s idea. If that person is a genius of Jobsian proportions, have at it. But, dollars to donuts, they’re not. When everyone can participate and everyone buys in and astute session leaders can help cross pollinate ideas and insights, the results can be pretty spectacular. There’s no moment more inspiring, more culture enriching, than the group “AH HAH” moment.
This consensus driven brand identity becomes storyfied. The CEO can espouse it. The CMO and content creators can express it in web sites, social media, sales decks and advertising, Sales can sell it. HR can retain and recruit all those hires necessary for carrying out the consensus. And CFO’s can approve the consensus driven initiatives because they FINALLY get it, because they were in the room when the AH HAH moment occurred, and it’s likely theirs was the first AH HAH!
Throughout the process of consensus branding, you have to keep your eye on the customer. Part of your team’s consensus process is to know what your customer thinks of them. Before you bring the team together for the brand discussions, you should have done deep dive, one-on-one conversations ith customers that reveal the good, the bad, and the ugly. Do they match up? Are you in sync? We use the customer insights and feelings as a guard rail to ensure that the internal consensus meets the needs of the customer. There is no you without them.
When done right, consensus branding is team building. Consensus is culture creating. Consensus is community. You can’t solve climate change, crime, or any societal issues without consensus, unless you want to go full dictator. You can’t lead companies without consensus unless you’re Steve Jobs, and even he had Jony Ive and a laboratory of the most talented minds in tech. And even they were slow to make a bigger iPhone.
The Fundamental Group brings to the party (actually, we bring the party) a series of exercises that will get your team thinking outside the boxes that humans create to keep things neat and tidy. Everybody contributes. Everyone debates. Everyone arrives at a place that everyone shares. From CEO to CMO to CFO to CRO to HR, and to all those responsible for carrying the brand forward and making sure it’s impacting the marketplace. And people like it. Suddenly, everyone is interested in the brand. And everyone is better for it.
We create the atmosphere that allows the “Ah Hah”” moment to happen; where everyone in the room or screen nods their heads without knowing they’re doing that. When that happens, creativity flows, contributions increase from the quietest corners, and big and small problems are solved. Even the blowhard is enlightened.