HOW TO WHY SERIES: EIGHT

Your purpose-led strategy is coming into form.  You have answered seven key questions so far.  Now it’s time to do some strategic soul searching regarding who you are. What is the character, voice and personality of your purpose-led organization?  How do you express it with your culture, customers, constituencies and community? To answer this you really need to know thyself. Being purpose-led can genuinely illuminate you who are.

Imagine your business or organization is a person. That person (your business) has a personality and character traits. If you don’t believe this, stop for a moment and picture in your mind American Airlines and what kind of image appears. Now picture Virgin Airlines. Both are airlines, but have completely different personalities. What do you see and feel when you picture Dell? Now think of Apple. Both are ‘computer’ companies, but there is a big difference in personalities. Realizing and capturing the personality of your business will help you transcend old school thinking that every business or organization is only what shows on the ledger sheet or stock index.

Imagine if that person (your business) were to walk into a room. What would he or she look like? Does your business have a gender? What is your business wearing? Subdued grays? Pastels? Earth tones or vibrant colors? Are you formal or casual? How old are you? Are you a listener? Or do you lead the conversation? Are you more verbal or more visual? What kind of car, if any, does your business drive? What is your favorite sport or entertainment? Favorite music? Books? Magazines? Political leanings? Is your business single? Married? Kids? Do you live in the city? Country? What your greatest fear in life? What brings you the greatest joy? Is your business always very serious? Funny? Are you the strong, silent type, or the life of the party? Although all this may sound a bit weird, it is incredibly important. What you are doing is giving your business a human framework. This is necessary when driving your business from a purpose-based foundation. With purpose comes passion. With passion comes humanity. With humanity comes the place where business strips away the veneer of quiet desperation and the protective, suffocating armor it has worn for far too long. A business that performs from a place of purpose must engage the marketplace as a living, breathing entity, not as a financial statement. To trust you and do business with you at this deeper level, your audience needs to know who you are. Therefore, you need to know who you are.

This is an exercise in realizing who you really are and feeling comfortable in that skin. This is about your business capturing its true personality. This is not about building a brand, but building character. This is about making sure your story is told the only way it can be told. Answer this question the way it should be answered and you will find the voice of your marketing and communications to be confident, clear, and welcomed by your marketplace.

Here are some examples of models Madison Avenue often uses to frame a business or organization:

• The down-to-earth, family oriented, genuine, old-fashioned type. This they call “sincerity.” Sincerity brands are Hallmark, Kodak, and sometimes Coca-Cola. The relationship is akin to one that resides with a well-liked and respected member of the family.

• The spirited, young, up-to-date outgoing type. Pepsi goes after this type. This relationship would be spending a weekend night with a friend who is young and spirited.

The accomplished, influential, competent type. Hewlett Packard and The Wall Street Journal are this type. This relationship is one you would have with a person you respect for what he has achieved. Business computer marketing often strives for this relationship with their customers.

The pretentious, wealthy, condescending type. BMW, Mercedes, Lexus fit this mold. This relationship is like the one you would have with a powerful CEO or wealthy relative.

The athletic and outdoorsy type. Nike, Marlboro and Wells Fargo fit in here. This relationship is one you would have when coordinating an outing with a good friend who loves the outdoors.

These “types” are just a sampling of the matrixes, models, methodologies and magic that traditional brand builders bring to the purpose-less brand party. Stay away from this stuff, no matter how tempting it may be. The power of your purpose is that it transcends types and models. Your personality is your personality.

What Is Your Voice?

Begin now to visualize your business or organization as a person. Describe that person in as great detail as possible. Create a personality study of your business. Capture its strengths in personality as well as its weaknesses. Begin by asking yourself, if your business walked into the room, would it appear as a male or female? Answering this key question no doubt will set the stage for how you continue to pro- file the human aspects of your business. Then begin to shape that complete person. Be as literal or cerebral as you need to be. Describe your organization’s day from the moment it gets out of bed to when it puts its head on the pillow at the end of the day. This process can begin to describe everything from do you wake up to an alarm or naturally? If it is an alarm –is it music, a beep or a Zen gong? What do you have for breakfast? Do you even have breakfast? You can have fun with this. But make sure the fun always reflects the purpose of your business. When you have captured your voice, you are ready for the next question: What tools do you need to tell the truth?

 

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