What is Brand DNA
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Think of Brand DNA as your road map – it dictates where your brand can go in the future and how it will get there.
When Brand DNA is strategically mapped out, the people behind your brand become aligned towards a common goal. That ultimately means long term success, higher ROI, increased job satisfaction, and all that other good stuff.
Brand DNA is made up of:
The components of Brand DNA will be unique to your brand and provide a clear picture of your brand’s future. Brands that do not map out their Brand DNA often find themselves aimlessly wandering towards whatever venture seems like a good idea at the time.
That is not a very sound recipe for success and can lead to employee burnout and client dissatisfaction, among other things.
To help you avoid the aimless wandering and ensure your brand is on the right track, let this article serve as a resource for you.
In it, we’ll break down the four components of Brand DNA and provide real life examples that you can garner inspiration from.
Ready to start solidifying your Brand DNA?
A brand’s purpose is its raison d’etre – why it even exists in the first place (besides making money, of course). Purpose should be a source of energy for employees to use and draw strength from.
Take Tesla for example. Tesla is the foremost leader when it comes to eco-friendly cars. But it’s more than just a car company and it’s more than just another employer.
People want to work at Tesla not just because of the money (though I’m sure that can’t hurt) but because it’s a company with a purpose they can get behind.
Purpose is what guides a brand’s mission, vision, and values. Without it, employees would have no reason to work for your brand over another brand.
By having this type of purpose ingrained within your brand, you will attract people who also want to be a part of that (greater) purpose.
To make sure your brand’s purpose is something that employees can rally behind, you’ll want to craft a purpose statement.
A purpose statement should be short yet descriptive. It needs to convey the ‘why’ behind your brand – the motivation and drive behind the brand.
Here are a few questions to get you started:
- What is the motivation and drive behind the brand?
- Why should people care?
- Why does the brand exist besides making money?
Your answers to those questions will help you formulate your purpose statement. Take a look at some examples of well-known brands and their purpose statements:
|Tesla||To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.|
|Nike||To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.|
|Ford||To make our cars better, our employees happier, and the planet a better place to be.|
|Amazon||To be Earth’s most customer-centric company.|
|Microsoft||To enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential.|
With your purpose statement sorted out – it’s time for mapping out your vision statement. A vision statement typically lasts 5-20 years, and encapsulates the essence of shared vision success.
Think about the long-term goals or ambitions you want to ascertain (multiple locations, nationally recognized, 20 fortune 500 brands served, etc.) and wield them into a succinct statement to use as your north star, constantly pointing you in the right direction.
Exercise: A great way to develop your mission statement is to work backwards. Pretend your business is closing its doors 25 years from now and you are in charge of writing its obituary. Like an actual obit, it should tell a story and include large scale accomplishments and overall impact throughout its lifetime.
Whether you choose to write an obituary for your brand or not, you’ll need to develop ambitious goals, accomplishments, or exploits to make your vision statement tangible.
A good example of a unified vision is Apple. The Macintosh computer hit stores in 1984. Apple’s vision was to create tools that allowed creatives to do better work across many different fields. Now, almost 40 years later Apple sells laptops, desktops, iPads, iPhones, watches, etc. I’d say they achieved their goals and then some – all because they laid out a solid plan and nailed the follow through.
Here are examples of vision statements from an organization and a B2B company:
|Alzheimer’s Association||A world without alzheimers.|
|Paychex||To be the leading provider of payroll, human resources, and employee benefit services by being an essential partner with America’s businesses.|
The above examples demonstrate the future goals of each company, where they hope to be in a few years and what they hope to accomplish. We don’t yet know how they’ll get there (that will come later).
Remember, because vision is a shared idea, key decision makers need to have a say. Involve your board of directors or leadership team when creating your vision. Make sure you can find common ground and get everyone thinking on the same terms.
This will help unify your brand and make it easier to achieve your goals down the line. This is especially important for larger companies who may have a larger leadership team to account for.
Vision is a shared picture of success, serving as your brand’s direction.
Mission is how your brand will achieve its vision. It’s also predicated on value.
Similarly to vision, mission is long-term – running 5-20 years into the future in parallel with vision. Your brand’s mission will lay out exactly how your brand will provide value to the marketplace and it will provide your employees with actionable items they can use to achieve that vision.
Because your mission is your brand’s master plan for creating value, it should be unique to your brand and its place within the market.
But what do we mean by “creating value,”?
Value can look like a number of different things, from providing the labor force with a great place to work, to providing the world with a useful service that improves lives.
The value your brand creates can be a product or service that ultimately improves the lives of the people who purchase it.
Another way to think of it is: if people were to choose an alternative to your good/service – they would be worse off (this only works if you’re good at what you do ;).
Going back to our Tesla example, we know that Tesla set out to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy” (purpose).
And to do that Tesla needed to “create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles” (mission).
Continuing with our examples from above, let’s look at those same two organizations and how their vision statements help dictate their mission statements.
|Alzheimer’s Association||A world without alzheimers.||Lead the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia – by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support.|
|Paychex||To be the leading provider of payroll, human resources, and employee benefit services by being an essential partner with America’s businesses.||To give back to our local communities, enriching their livelihoods as they do ours. To give our clients more than just the best solutions for business, but also helping them do business the right way. To support our employees beyond the workplace, focusing on improving their environment at work and in our community. To be a good steward of the environment responsibly operating our business to make a positive impact on the planet.|
With vision and mission side-by-side you can see how their goals begin to take a more actionable form.
These organizations know what they want (vision) and now they have created a way to achieve those goals (mission).
Core values are the backbone of a brand. They are shared internally and work to drive brand behavior.
A lot of companies get these wrong by choosing obvious values that are honestly prerequisites… (Things like honesty are not really core values because it should be expected).
Instead of just writing down some buzz words and hoping for the best, create core values that encapsulate who you are as a brand.
Think of how your values will help employees reach the brand’s shared vision/mission.
At vnzo our core values include:
- Think, make, do (Creativity)
- Empower others (Empowerment)
- Say it like it is (Courage)
- Eager to accommodate (Flexibility)
- Work smarter, not harder (Efficiency)
- Be seriously fun (Fun)
And here are some more examples of core values:
- Do the right thing, always
- Say it like it is
- Lead by example
- Bring out the best in everyone
- Honor our commitments
- Do one thing, really really well
- Focus on the user and the rest will follow
- You can be serious without a suit
- Look beyond the present
- We are strongest when we work together
When implemented, they can be used as a baseline for grading staff over a period of time. At each performance evaluation, let the employee know whether they are below the mark, meeting the mark, or exceeding the mark for each core value.
Over time, you’ll be able to curb company culture and ensure each employee on the company bus is in the right seat.
Summary – Brand DNA
In order to provide value to your customers and do more than just make money you will need to map out your brand’s DNA.
- Why does your brand exist?
- Where do you want to take your brand?
- How will you get there?
- What attributes will your team need in order to achieve your shared goals?
And when all four work together, there’s no telling how far your brand will go.
Each component of Brand DNA (purpose, vision, mission, values) is what makes your brand, well, your brand.
If you’re ready to learn more about your brand’s DNA. Contact vnzo today and let’s chat.
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