Success defined for 2021.

The only constant is change. And success is not exempt. So what will it look like in the year ahead if it’s not a frantic sprint to 2019 numbers?

As we all know firsthand, change and uncertainty exponentially increased in 2020. Things we didn’t think needed to be addressed until five, ten years down the road are now mission critical. And in the face of all this acceleration, shareholders are demanding a plan to insure survival for the next four quarters.

Success and Meaning are one.

Yes, profits and shareholder happiness are important, but so is relevance. A meaningful brand will succeed in both. And it will better navigate uncharted waters like a global pandemic.

A brand vision is more than window dressing. It is the very substance of why your business should exist. Especially in a post-pandemic world where systemic reassessment is inevitable.

A meaningful brand has two things:

  1. A thriving workforce that is passionate about what they do, and
  2. A consumer base that is loyal beyond belief, resulting in profits even in midsts of a pandemic (as an example, just look at Apple’s earnings over the last 8 months in comparison to everyone else).

Your community of employees and consumers have overlapped, both asking why does your business exist. But this is more than just purpose. It is about meaning, a deeper connection with humanity. Which ultimately leads us to the question, does your brand hold a meaningful place in the world? Or is it just a matter of time before you fade away with the rest?

As you know, intentional action is the core part of any CEO’s role. Here are three areas of focus that can help see your brand from a different perspective to take action toward becoming a meaningful brand:

1. A shift in seeing yourself as a community of people, instead of property owned by shareholders.

This is about being intentional with how you look at your workforce. It includes things like what values and beliefs are currently woven into the fabric of your culture and identifying the ones you want. And spoiler… you can’t have and be everything. Just like you do with consumers, you have to be intentional with your employees and the kind of people you want to attract to your brand and keep.

How’s your workforce doing with remote working? How much more important is a cohesive and motivated workforce in today’s world. By giving your brand meaning, you humanize it. An emotion element necessary for a thriving community.

2. Consumers are looking at their budgets too.

With a limited income for many and no income for many more, consumers are being very strategic with their budgets. Whether it’s that cup of coffee, dinner take-out, holiday gifts, entertainment (streaming services), or rent, expenses are being looked over to see what can be cut out. Do you know the drivers that determine what stays and what moves down below the line?

Is your brand an expense or a value add? Consumers are intentional with budgets, so corporate leaders have to be intentional in how they position and communicate their value. This means instead of holding back on marketing, now is the time to pour in and position your brand in a meaningful way.

3. Corporate leaders who make bold moves reap the benefits.

Risk is an interesting word. It not only communicates the intentionality needed for action, but the boldness an action holds. Research shows that corporate leaders who make bold moves reap the benefits. This is the CEO moment to take action.

My point: Branding will make or break you.

A meaningful brand is an existential investment. It is how you resonate and connect with employees and consumers alike. And on a level that goes deeper than transactional.

We call it humanizing your brand.

With the alternative being Chapter 7, 11, or any other bankruptcy of your choice.

It starts with an honest conversation about your brand.

I along with my partners at meaningful, have recently launched the Be Meaningful podcast. It’s where we get on the air with executives to discuss their company in real-time, with a focus on the strength and relevance of the messaging and position of the brand. This podcast allows us to share our thinking in real-time — a free consultation of sorts — in the form of a casual, give-and-take conversation.

What questions are you privately wrestling with that need to be shared? And answered?

We believe nothing impacts the bottom line more effectively and quickly than insightful and well-executed branding, so let’s talk about yours. We’d love to chat.

Thanks for taking the few minutes to read my thoughts. Tell me what you think below, or hit me up on Twitter.

Humanizing Brands

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