Branding smartly takes more than just creating a brand and following the traditional methods of using it in your business. Your brand is more than your logo or your marketing materials. Your brand is what people think and say about you when you leave the room. Too often, companies get stuck in the same routine of brand building. In order to brand smartly, you need to transcend from the old branding system to one that is creative and open-minded.
Imagine for a second that we as businesspeople may be going about branding the wrong way. What if we’re starting in the wrong place? In my conversation with Stan Bernard, president of Bernard Associates and author of the book, Brands Don’t Win: How Transcenders Change the Game, we talked about this very idea. Stan said that you need to be a transcender and in order to do that, you have to be open-minded, understand the game you want to play, and know where you want to take your brand.
Stan’s biggest issue when consulting is that people, especially those who have been in their industries for a while, are too closed-minded. If you continue to play the same branding game, you will continue to get the same stagnant results rather than evolving your brand for the future. Stan focuses, as should all business people, on opening the minds of those he’s consulting, challenging them to win big with smart branding strategies. In order to win big, you need to understand the game you’re playing. He likened this idea to sports, drawing upon successful programs like the University of Alabama football program, which has instituted winning systems — something he calls the Transcender Process. Stan also drew on some of the most prominent political figures in recent history to prove the fact that they didn’t start with the brand, but their game plan or campaign agenda, and then added the brand. Once you know the game you want to play, you can then put your brand, your logo, and your stamp on the process.
One of the best ways to transform your brand is to create your own space. We can’t do that without being open-minded and understanding the game we want to play. As Stan notes, “Traditionalists are basically trying to stay ahead of their competitors…Transcenders are looking for revolutionary game-changers.” Think Amazon or Peloton. These brands are game-changing giants that created their own brand spaces. Think about how you can apply that concept to your own brand initiatives.
If you’re stuck trying to figure out how you can brand smartly, transcend your business, build your company, and THINK BIG, contact me.