In America today, it is Memorial Day.
On this fine day, many American’s have off of work and school to celebrate all the US military soldiers who have given their lives to fight for our freedoms. This day is a way to respect those that gave their all for their country and for us personally. The least that we Americans can do is honor those fallen soldiers. To the soldiers past, present, and future, I say thank you for your service. To those fallen soldiers I salute you and think of you often.
Fallen Soldiers, you will not be forgotten. This is the promise we make to you.
Celebrating today is following through on that promise.
Some ways we celebrate these fallen soldiers is by putting flags on the soldier’s graves or putting a flag on our homes or around town as a constant reminder. This a sign of respect and a sign of remembrance for what those soldiers have given us. To some degree, it is a brand promise that our country makes to those soldiers. Please take a moment to reflect on this huge sacrifice and maybe give them a moment of silence.
Why am I sharing Memorial Day thoughts on a business site? Well, if you think about it, building your brand is no different than a country building their brand or a country creating a holiday to celebrate fallen soldiers. You see, a country creates a symbol, it’s flag, and set of standards for what that symbol stands for. They also create holidays around things their people find important. In business, we create a logo, colors, and other brand identity symbols or stories to represent what we stand for.
One of the mistakes small startups make is they create a logo and think that will create a legion of followers and a ton of passionate and loyal clients. A logo and basic branding alone, however, cannot create the type of loyalty America has been able to establish in their loyal countrymen and women that are willing to fight to the death for their commitment to their country. This is rarely the case in business no matter how great the logo or some marketing elements are. Why? It is not the logo or symbol people fall in love with, it is the promise behind that symbol.
I recently read a children’s book on the Pledge of Allegiance (you can watch the video here). What I found was it allowed me to dig deeper into what the meaning of what the Pledge really stands for. It is always good for us to take a moment to reflect on why we follow such strong traditions as saying the Pledge and what it really means. The same is true for our businesses. We need to spend time reflecting on WHY we do what we do and what our real purpose is.
When it comes to business… a logo alone isn’t enough.
If we want our clients to become raving fans just as many Americans that have a deep sense of pride in their country, then we have to build a brand promise. We might want to follow some of the things America has done to build our great country – like define why we are creating this nation and then create a declaration of what we stand for.
To some degree this is, as Simon Sinek calls it, starting with our WHY.
This is not always easy to clearly define what our WHY is and put it into words. But just as America created the Declaration of Independence to start this country, you too need to define words to inspire your people (employees, customers, vendors and the like).
America used strong words like this in the Declaration of Independence…
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
You can see these are powerful words that people can get behind. These words ring true today as to what American’s believe and why they love their country and why we celebrate the men and women who have given their lives for us, with this day of remembrance. These are words to stand for, to fight for and to die for.
As a business owner of nearly 20 years, I have made a ton of mistakes.
Early on I created a logo and thought my work would build my reputation and legions of followers. The logo itself helped make me more trustworthy. The quality of my work helped to build my reputation, but I struggled to build a legion of raving customers that were as loyal to my business as they were to their country. Why was this? Well, although I thought I was serving them the same way their country was, they didn’t see it that way.
So I’ll share a few mistakes on my journey to help paint this picture. In the first 10-years, I had 3 different business names. This was partly because of a name conflict early on, then a haphazard name change to get out of that mess, and then lastly to build a strong brand. In the last 20 years, my business has also pivoted in several areas. I started by stating my company was a design firm, then I added “illustration” to part of the positioning because this was a way to focus on my strengths, stand out and do more of what I loved. Then as I started getting more strategic with my own business, I saw many other companies struggling with getting results from their own marketing efforts so I started offering “strategy” to the mix. A few years later I saw issues converting marketing results into sales and so I started supporting and training salespeople. Yes, this is a whirlwind of pivots and could be highly confusing to my following and customers.
If I told my clients and prospects the story the way I wrote it here, they would be confused and not be loyal or maybe ever turn into raving fans. Why? Because this message is all over the place. So what is the solution? Finding something to stand for. Creating a brand promise that you can get behind. Create a brand promise that inspires people and builds a loyal following. The key is defining your WHY and your purpose for being, just as America has done.
For me personally, this was a 5-year journey of trial and errors, but I think I currently have defined why I do what I do and…
My purpose is to challenge people to become innovative leaders so that we can change the world together.
If you have not read the Success Movement’s purpose on the “About The Movement” page on this site, maybe you should. Click the link to read it now. On this page, you will notice I am declaring what my promise is to you… our reader, our follower, and our community. I hope that there are areas in this brand promise that speaks loud and clear to you and inspires you to join the movement just as the Declaration of Independence inspired the 13 Colonies to get together to fight for something that was bigger than themselves alone. I hope that our purpose to leave the business community better than we found it is part of the reason you are here and why you are wanting to be a part of what we are doing.
That being said, your brand promise has to also inspire.
The goal is to build a legion of followers and a lot of loyal clients that have so much pride in doing business with you that some actually tattoo your logo, or maybe your WHY statement, on their body like they do with the Harley Davidson logo or the American Flag. Harley and America are both examples of following through on the brand promise they have created. That is the other piece. You must also follow through and consistently deliver on your brand promise. Although sometimes you will fail to live up to the promise, you need to make sure you typically knock it out of the park related to your promise.
As I wrap up this article I challenge you to reflect on your business and see if you have a brand promise people can get behind. If so, is it one you have clearly defined and documented and something that you use as your rally cry in your marketing. Lastly are your tribe running with your promise and living it too? If not, you are not alone, but is it worth committing some time to, in order to build a loyal tribe of raving fans and customers? I think so.
Again, on this day let’s remember the brave soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the brand promise their country offered them and let’s not let their death be in vain. Celebrating this holiday today is following through on the brand promise we have as Americans.
Photo by Beverly & Pack