This episode explains what brand alignment is, how your brand can go out of alignment and how you can build an aligned and Unified brand. There are also some examples from well-known brands like Nike and Ben & Jerry’s showing how they are aligned.
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An identity crisis is when the layers that make up your brand. So the four key layers, which are the core, which is the heart of the brand strategy or brain of the brand face or identity of the brand and voice or personality, of the brand when one of these layers is out of alignment or out of sync with the others. And sometimes it could be the elements within those layers. That are out of sync with each other. And what it causes is rather than having a through line between all of these, these layers of your brand, from the internal brand to the external brand, you have something that’s out of alignment and doesn’t make sense.
This is more common than you think, and actually happens with a lot of brands. For example, let’s look at some well-known brands and how they are aligned through the key elements of their brand and the layers let’s look at Nike.
So. Nike’s mission is to bring innovation and inspiration to every athlete in the world. And they have an asterix after this mission that says, if you have a body, you are an athlete. Now, if you look at that mission statement, and then you look at any of the recent ads they’ve done that you’ve seen on YouTube or on the TV, everything they do is aligned to that mission statement. There’s nothing between, there’s no difference between the video ads that they do, the marketing that they do generally as a campaign to that mission statement.
And what that is is you’ve got the mission statement, which is from the core, the internal part of the brand. And you’ve got an ad. A video ad, which is taken from the identity and the personality layers of the brand. And you could draw a through line from this part of the brand, the external part, right the way through to the core of what they stand for. You could even take this further and say that the Nike tick in itself, and also the, just do it is an embodiment of that mission. To inspire and innovate for every athlete in the world. And that is an example of an aligned brand.
Now another well known brand that does this really well is Ben and Jerry’s now they embody the jester archetype within their brand. So everything they do is, fun. Playful. It’s childlike. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. If you look at their packaging, they have pictures of cows talking and saying the flavors on the front of the packaging. You have big, bold, bright colors even the ads talk in a kind of whimsical fun way about the story of Ben and Jerry’s and how they came up with the interesting flavors. If you look at their mission statement, which is remember an internal part of the brand, it might be on their website, but initially the mission statement is really for the brand itself.
So how, how are they going to achieve their vision? And in that mission statement, they actually put the term ‘euphoric concoctions’. So for an internal mission statement, which a lot of people think of as wrongly, but as a stuffy formality that you have to do when creating a business or a brand to put in the term, euphoric concoctions, As a, a way to remind the internal team about that playfulness, that friendliness, you know, you wouldn’t get flavors like fish food, or cookie dough.
If you didn’t have something like that in your mission. You would get, if you put something in there, like tasty flavors, you would have something, I don’t know, like chocolate or strawberry or potentially something a little bit wacky, you know, like banana, but you would never have fish food or cookie dough, you know, that comes out of this playfulness, this idea too be a little bit whimsical, not take yourself too seriously and actually celebrate in that side of the brand.
Now, if you want to look at an example, an identity crisis, let’s take Ben and Jerry’s overall jester archetype of a brand. Imagine bringing in something from another well known ice cream, Brand say Haagan Dasz, which is the lover archetype and imagine bringing in say, just the packaging from Haagen Dasz to Ben and Jerry’s. So you have this idea of this mission statement, which involves around creating euphoric concoctions, and that then feeds through to packaging, that is quite seductive that is all about being enticive and an intimate with the audience.
Just doesn’t it doesn’t add up. It does not up at all and you can do the same with any of the layers. So you switch out any of the layers from Ben and Jerry’s and you switch it in for Haagan Dasz and you’ve got a brand that is in an identity crisis. It just doesn’t make sense it is not aligned through the layers of the brand.
What can be the cost for your business if your brand is out of alignment? Well, there’s a number of things and issues that can come up with a brand that’s out of alignment. You might find that internally your team is under motivated or directionless because they don’t understand what the brand stands for, which when they’re interacting with customers can be a bit of a problem, mixed messages and miscommunicating, what the brand stands for.
They also come into work and they’re not entirely sure where they’re going, where is the brand going? What is it trying to achieve? What is the purpose of this brand beyond making a profit? How did he fit into that? And how can they get motivated around the mission or to try and achieve a vision that’s sort of outside of targets and numbers you know, it’s kind of a bit more, something to, to rally the troops as it were.
The other issues you might find. Is that your message isn’t communicating properly to your audience, so isn’t being articulated properly to that audience. You might find that the visual side of your brand is not being presented correctly the, the core is set the strategies, right but visually and the way it’s been presented through that and your personality layer, just not connecting there’s something, not quite right about it.
So brand out of alignment can cause a lot of issues. Both from the internal perspective, but also for your audience and the last thing you want is an under motivated team internally. Isn’t sure where they’re going. That is unsure of the direction the brand is going in and an audience that is confused about your brand and as confused as your employees are about where it’s going, they’re confused about what it does for them and what problem it solves and how it fits into their life.
So what can you do to improve your brand alignment? Well, firstly, we would suggest getting a brand audit or doing a brand, audit yourself. A brand audit is doing a full diagnostic on your brand, looking at it through the lens of the four layers.
Do they connect? Are they aligned? Do they make sense? That’s at the core of what brand audit is. If you want to find out more and you want to find out the steps in more detail, you can watch the video that I just mentioned before, and that will help you to do an audit yourself or to use an agency like Elements Brand Management, to help you go through that process.
You want to formalize your brand. So you want a clear set of brand guidelines that house the visual identity of the brand and things like the brand language and the brand voice. There will also be things in there maybe you put in there, the brand mission and the vision and the values can go into the brand guidelines also, but it wants to be formalized in a way that is easy to refer to, that people can look to and use when they’re creating marketing collateral or your retailers if you’ve got retailers, can, can look to that when they’re presenting your brand in a shop potentially, or in an online setting.
It’s just a guide set of guidelines for anyone that interacts with your brand, they can get the visual identity side of it and the presentation side of it right.
You also want to have the mission, the vision, the values as part of, and the purpose is part of some kind of onboarding process for your employees. You also want to put together. In say the employee handbook or when a new employee comes in and you’re onboarding them, you want to give them the mission, the vision, the values, and the purpose in the employee handbook. And you want to have that as part of your onboarding process, and it’s something you want to come back to. Regularly to touch base with to make sure that you are still on target with your vision and your mission, people are still abiding by those values and they understand them and what it maters and why it means something to the brand that those values are in place.
And what this will help your internal team do is start to build up a picture of the brand inside and get them to buy into what your brand stands for the purpose, why it exists, where it’s going, and it gives them the tools to be able to be a bit more autonomous.
So if you give people rules and guidelines and a framework to work within, and also vision that you’re trying to reach, it’s a lot easier to come up with creative ideas and be innovative and yeah. Build out that brand autonomously as part of the different teams involved, but still stay on brand.
Number three, be consistent with everything that you do so from now on, you’ve taken the time to unify your brand and align the brand through those layers. The last thing you want to do is let that slip now. So everything you do from now on whether it’s marketing collateral, it could be new hires so new people into the business they want to be able to buy into that brand, what it stands for and they also want to make sense for the brand if the people that you’re hiring don’t have the same values as you, that could be something that, that might be a deal breaker.
But anything you do going forward wants to be reviewed through the lens of that aligned brand. It wants to make sense. So if it doesn’t fit in with what you stand for, the strategy you’re using, how you visually present yourself or the personality of your brand, it shouldn’t be considered and you shouldn’t bring it in because all you’re going to do is sow the seeds of an identity crisis and dilute what you have built up through that aligned brand.
Number four, aligning the brand internally. So get your employees. Contractors freelancers and retailers to buy into what the brand stands for. These are the people that day in day out are the ones that are going to be promoting your brand or advocates for it. Whether that’s through sales, customer, service, marketing, external partners, collaborations, affiliates, these people are the people that are on the front lines, promoting your brand daily.
They really need to be bought in to what that brand stands for, why it exists and where it’s going and in doing so. It’ll ignite their passion for the brand, spur them on, give them a reason to push that brand even more and give them some creative leeway to be able to play within kind of a sun box of your brand. Push the envelope it’s difficult to push the envelope or think outside the box. When there isn’t a box to think outside, you need a box in order to think outside it. And most brands don’t define the box. So how do they expect their employees to think outside that box? So you need this formalized brand. They need to be bought into it, and they need to feel like they understand it as a whole.
So they can be autonomous and move things forward, be creative, innovative, but in a way that stays true to what that brand stands for to illustrate the point of aligning the brand internally. Imagine you’ve just got a job with Nike and you turn up for the first day and it doesn’t matter whether you’re in marketing sales, operations, production, you turn up.
And the first thing they say to you, when you ask what’s your job. They tell you the mission statement from earlier. So to bring innovation and inspiration to every athlete in the world. And we believe as Nike, if you have a body, no matter what ability, what age you are, an athlete.
Now, imagine hearing that, on your first day on the job, how much more inspired are you going to be as opposed to turning up on the first day of your job and someone saying to you, hi, welcome to Nike sell these shoes.
Now you might be there to sell the shoes, but which one’s going to motivate you the most, which one makes you understand the brand intrinsically. And which one are you going to be more rallied behind to, to push forward and to promote.
It’s the same as when you see in a lot of films where, for instance, the one that comes to mind straight away is say Braveheart where he does that speech and he rides up and down the front of the horses and their army is completely outnumbered. So he knows he has to do something. He has to do something to, build that inside them, that passion, that devotion that ability to find something more than what they normally would tap into. And he does it with choice words, and he just inspires them as he rides up and down the front of that army that’s there.
And that’s what a well-crafted mission statement. Well crafted purpose. And just the fact, if your employees can understand what they are, they’re doing, that’s the sort of response you can get .
Five align your brand externally. This means making sure that your customers know what your brand is about, because if they’re not entirely sure on what you do for them.
What problem you solve? How are you going to make their life better, or what role you play in their life? They are not going to buy from you at all and they’re going to, they’re going to be confused and you don’t want to confused customer.
There’s a study by Gallup that looked at different customers from different brands. And they found that customers who not only recognize the brand. So whether that it’s the logo or the visual identity or slogan, but also. Understood the promise or the key characteristics of that brand, what they were trying to get across the values they stood for. And that that was aligned with their own values, gave the brand double the amount of money. Then people who just recognize the brand for say the logo or the visual identity.
So it’s really important to create an aligned brand externally as well as internally. And that, that wants to be completely aligned, authentic, and true because it’s going to connect on a level that is deeper and authentic with your customers.
To sum up building brand alignment is crucial in today’s crowded landscape. You want to make sure you don’t stray off track. It can be really easy to do it with the amount of. Options you have available to you on how to promote it and how to change it, but you really want to stay true to what the brand means and it’s imperative to keep it aligned and keep everything you do from now on, through the lens of that alignment so that you can build a unified brand.
If you’re looking for some more information on building a, unified brand, and sort of cementing that alignment. There is a link to a guide in the description, which is all about the unified brand and our methodology of how we build unified brands. it will give you some ideas of how to rid your brand of an identity crisis. It’s completely free. You just need to click the link below and you can go through to a page where you can download it.
We just put together a weekly brand tip video series, which is designed to help you to unlock your brand’s potential. And stand out from the competition. And if you’re interested, if you just go to elements, brand management all one word.co.uk forward slash weekly hyphen brand hyphen tips, sign up and you’ll be delivered three to five minute video a week straight to your inbox. I’ll put a link in the show notes. If you’re interested.
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Have a great week catch up scene. Keep those brands unified.