LOOKING AT PEDIGREE IN A WHOLE NEW WAY
Whether you have stunning good looks or a face best suited for radio was all determined long before you were born – by the genes each of your parents contributed (so go ahead and blame them for that movie career which never took off.) The same genetic material – DNA – is at work in flies and frogs and fish and fowl via a process that`s remarkably similar in all living things. And since funds and other firms are often viewed as living organisms, it’s not too much of a stretch to think that there’s a kind of ‘corporate DNA’ contributed by the founders that shapes what each firm looks like and how it performs.
Following the analogy, the factors that define a firm – and that we want its clients and prospects to see and experience – are already in place, but may not be clearly visible. DNA is carried in a twisted, convoluted bundle (nature’s equivalent of a strategy deck) and is usually locked up in the nucleus (which we might dare to call the company headquarters). The key action step in the biological world is the translation of the genetic code into the building blocks of organic material. This is how the hereditary blueprint is put to work every day, while the master copy remains safely tucked away in the nucleus of each cell.
If the fact that a tiny set of molecules can manage so much information (and do it over and over for countless generations) isn’t amazing enough, consider the process by which a particular organic blueprint actually builds a great white shark instead of a goldfish or a marketing guy.
It’s no different for your organization: the first step to building your brand is to translate the essence of your firm into “brand pillars”. Note the word translate: this isn’t about ‘wishing’ what the fund should be or ‘hoping’ what it could be. Translation is a hands-on process of interviewing a cross-section of stakeholders and synthesizing their responses into words and actionable phrases that describe the philosophy, mindset, orientation and style of your company. It’s not advertising copy, not meant to be a tagline or a tweet. But it is the rubric against which all communications and actions will be gauged for consistency. And that consistency is the hallmark of a powerful brand.
Remember that creating the organism (or establishing your brand) is only the beginning: once the shark is born he still has to swim, eat, and survive long enough to make little sharks. Your firm has to leverage its brand in order to attract and maintain clients or investors. Above all, fulfilling the brand promise at each touchpoint will deliver a consistent experience that’s unique to you – and memorable to your clients. And that’s where the long-term power of a strong brand can compensate for short-term gaps in performance and challenges from competitors.
Indulging the DNA analogy just a little farther, remember that every cell carries a complete blueprint for the entire organism of which it is a tiny part. While some cells are specialized for certain tasks, the information is so important to long-term survival that nature places a copy in every part of the organism. Is the same true for your organization? Does every individual carry the message that you want the marketplace to remember? And most importantly, do they translate that message into consistent actions that continually reinforce your brand?
Few people would build a house without a blueprint; few executives would run an organization without a financial plan. In the same way, a strong brand should be the basis of your marketing and operating strategy. All the necessary information is already inside your company, representing the different backgrounds, experiences and strengths of the leadership team. Fulfill your potential and start evolving a unique brand today.