Many people think of “branding” as a logo or cool stationary but, in my opinion, that’s just one small part of the equation that serves as a visual mark. The real brand is the “story” that you create through the experiences you provide. It’s the story that others comes to know and tell.
A brand is the sum of all parts and it applies not just to a business or organization but to us as individuals as well. A brand is built over time. It’s what we’re known for, what people come to expect and what sets us apart.
In order to for a brand to be effective you must take proactive steps to make your brand into what it is and will become. You must set guidelines to who you are, where you are going and what you will stand for. Taking a stand means saying YES to certain things and NO to others. It means not trying to please everyone but to stay true to who you are. It involves setting levels of expectation and excellence and not settling for anything less.
There are countless examples of those who have taken a stand for their brand but one that always comes to mind for me is Chick-Fil-A. I don’t think I’ve ever been to one of their restaurants without the cashier saying “My Pleasure” or “Have a Great Day.” 99% of the time they get my order right, their locations are always clean and well staffed to handle any influx of business.
Their staff members seem to care and perhaps that’s because they are cared about as well.
None of this happens at Chick-Fil-A without a proactive decision to stand for their brand, a choice to instill values and set a bar of excellence for staff members to attain.
But the biggest stand that Chick-Fil-A makes is to be closed on Sundays. That is counter culture to a fast food industry that seems to try and milk every hour of the day to push a product. No doubt that Chick-Fil-A could likely increase their sales by being open on Sundays but that would go against the brand that Truett Cathy stood for when he founded the business. A stand Truett made and that Dan Cathy continues, that makes Chick-Fil-A what it is today.
For Truett Cathy, it was about something more…
This statement from a “Closed on Sunday Policy” says it well:
Cathy’s practice of closing his restaurants on Sunday is unique to the restaurant business and a testament to his faith in God. Within the first week of business at his Dwarf Grill restaurant in Hapeville, Ga. more than 60 years ago, Cathy knew that he would not deal with money on the “Lord’s Day.”
Today, the Closed-on- Sunday policy is reflected in the company’s Corporate Purpose:
- To glorify God by being a faithful steward to all that is entrusted to us.
- To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.
Cathy believes that being closed on Sunday says two important things to people: One, that there must be something special about the way Chick-Fil-A people view their spiritual life; and, two, that there must be something special about how Chick-fil-A feels about its people.
In order to take a stand for something, you have to know what you stand for. Have you thought about that lately? Have you sat back and reflected about what you want your company and your own individuality to be known for? What story do you want to tell and to be told? What actions are you taking right now in order to make that happen?
Our choices, individually and corporately make up who we are. They make up our brand and each day we can choose to strengthen and reinforce that brand or to waiver and undermine it… thus having to admirable brand at all.
Today, choose to make a stand for your brand by taking the exercise below.
Ask yourself, your organization and your team the following questions (exercise adopted and modified from Jon Gordon):
1. What Do I Stand For? What Do We Stand For?
Make a list of what you believe you stand for.
2. Do My/Our Actions Reflect What I/We Stand For?
For example if you say you stand for great customer service but you don’t call your customer back in a timely manner or go above and beyond to address their concerns then you really don’t stand for great customer service. Evaluate your actions.
3. Make a Stand for Your Brand.
Take action on the things you stand for. Right now, write down 3 actions that you can take that will reinforce what you stand for then make the commitment to take action on them, to internalize them and to make them a part of who you are and what you do every day.
4. Re-Evaluate Often.
This will help you be aware of whether your actions are in alignment with your beliefs. There will always be discrepancies. No one is perfect. We all fall short. The key is to be aware and have a desire to improve. Just like a car needs constant realignment, so will you but you have to have a center to realign to.
How will you make a stand for your brand today? Share your comments here.