Since the posting of our last blog I recently participated in two brand-building exercises with two of our key relationships that are in different industries. The events had very different objectives. One was the on-boarding and cultural emersion of a new team of front line sales representatives and relationship makers. The other consisted of the refinement and delineation of the company’s mission, vision and core values. The working sessions were attended by the leaders and department managers of the organization and were facilitated by a trusted, highly credentialed consultant who specialized in behavioral science, organizational communication and change management.
In both cases, I not only gleaned new, critical snippets of client knowledge, but also received a clearer view of our own company and brand. Like many groups, we actively manage and promote our brand and have done well communicating it, but we always push for continuous improvement. A willingness to listen to constructive criticism, and more importantly, seek it out, is a powerful business practice.
The first workshop I attended with our clients focused on personality types and persona selling styles. Along with the rest of the group, I took the Myers-Briggs personality test. The confirmations of certain traits gave me a clearer view of who I am and how deeply I am intertwined with our company culture. I was able to see firsthand how others reacted when my personality style was discussed. These reactions varied from ones of surprise, to disagreements, to even hearty affirmations. These reactions showed me that how you are perceived comes down to the points of contact and interactions people have with your brand. Gaining insight into how congruent these two audiences view your brand and your opinion of the same, amount to the powerful business practice mentioned earlier: the willingness to listen to constructive criticism and seek it out.
The other workshop I attended was a daylong working session that made great strides in crystallizing a company’s mission, vision and values, as well as developing consensus thoughts from key stakeholders. We have worked with this client for over a decade and have helped them build their business and evolve their brand, so I looked forward to a passionate and collaborative day… I was not disappointed.
Structured exercises of this kind benefit from high levels of engagement from highly informed participants. Honesty and the level of safety a participant feels to champion dissenting opinions is, in my mind, the linchpin to the effectiveness of these efforts.
As I reflected on the status of our brand and how it is perceived, I looked at it in two distinct ways: how a prospect experiences TE+A and formulates an opinion of us, and what are those clients’ experiences?
Once you establish your message and gauge audience perception, where and how do you take the next steps?
All of these questions are important to answer when trying to discover the “self” of your brand and even more so important when trying to discover your brand’s “true self”. Drilling down to what it is your brand actually stands for and the face that you put forth towards your clients will not be an easy task. Balancing the Id and Superego, while also finding the right amount of constructive criticism to take by incorporating the realistic tactics of the Ego is a key tactic. On top of all of that, you have to know how to combine this together without losing the essence of what your brand is and what you want it to be. However, one ideal is what makes all this effort worth the while: By knowing yourself, you know your brand. Security in self and security in brand go hand in hand.
Knowing exactly how you are perceived is never an easy task. There are many ways of going about finding the truth beyond your own personal thoughts. Even then, it’s possible you are going to miss some vital insight, either from not having enough constructive criticism, or by letting the Ego overlook what has been given to you. It is an ongoing process that you must commit yourself to and be resolute in performing. Your brand might not be the “fairest of them all” just yet, but with a bit of insight and perseverance to change, your “happily ever after” brand image is not such a fairy tale after all.