The marketing world is divided into two camps: Brand “Haves” and “Have-Nots”
Global brands have substantial financial resources which grant them access to creative superstars and global distribution platforms.
Small & midsized companies make do. Some manage to create cohesive brands but wither in obscurity lacking the capability and resources to spread their story. Worse some subsist on just a logo and color palette. There #1 branding priority is making sure that Vistaprint gets the logo color on the business cards right.
What if the Have-Nots”, the scrappy insurgents, could somehow change the branding game?
What if their business message could be clear and persuasive enough to slice through the noise like a dog whistle?
Today we’ll discuss a principle called Culture Branding. Our team I crafted this principle to offer a roadmap for insurgent brands who have enough budget to be dangerous but not enough to be sloppy. As the marketing leader of your organization, this principle may be what you need to get noticed.
Answer These Three Questions
Download the free companion “Culture Branding Checklist” from our Content Toolbox
#1: What is Your Core Why?
They are our friends, fellow coffee fanatics, trusted partners in the unfathomably complex story of coffee going from the plant to your cup. Our calling, then, is to honor our farmers and friends by paying them well, roasting their coffee in a way that honors its history and nuance, and serving the coffee with gratitude, acknowledging our place in this family of coffee.
This is Crema’s Why
These two sentences inspire and motivate. They tell you who they serve and interestingly it’s not their customers. Of course, customers benefit but that only happens when Crema is on-mission.
You’ve seen poor attempts at creating a “Core Why”. Empty slogans, soundbites, and vapid laminated cards. Run from that stuff. Instead, have a heart to heart discussion with your company’s leaders and influencers. Answer the question: Why are we here. Keep asking the question until you dig down to what’s true – your Core Why.
Instead, have a heart to heart discussion with your company’s leaders and influencers. Answer the question: Why are we here. Keep asking the question until you dig down to what’s true – your Core Why.
#2: What is Your Story?
Did your eyes glaze over when you read the word “story”? I don’t blame you. That majestic word loses value every time some marketing consultant uses it as a pitch rather than a foundation for making an impact.
A story connects the reader and listener in an emotional bond. Stories are a uniquely human art form. You know a good story when you hear it because it moves you to think or take action.
Your brand’s Why needs to be articulated in a story. It’s tough to do but the end-product is the most valuable marketing asset your business can create.
Frankly, sculpting your story is the primary reason why you are the marketing leader. We refuse to distract our clients with tools, tips, and tricks until they have a story. It’s that important.
#3: Which Insurgent Media Platforms Are You Using?
We’ve been studying Donald Trump’s campaign. We have a core principle that encourages ‘Relentless Curiosity’. On November 10th, 2016 I was curious about how a regular citizen toppled a political dynasty and flipped off the political establishment. How did he do it? Here are three clues:
1. Pep Rallies
Trump used his pep rally’s to test his messaging themes. Think of these rallies as the world largest focus group. Like a comedian honing his bit in small comedy clubs, Trump used audience reaction to refine his stump speech. Along the way, he knitted together an unlikely insurgency that put him in the White House.
Breitbart is the online home of the alt-right. Provocation is Breitbart’s strategy. Behind the bombast and neck-snapping headlines is a global political philosophy that forms the ideological foundation of Trumpism. Breitbart hates establishment media. It’s the mouthpiece of an insurgency. Steve Bannon, Breitbart’s former CEO, is now Trump’s strategic advisor.
Dark posts aren’t sinister. They are vital. Dark Posts can be advertised without needing to publish the post in your newsfeed. This is how Trump was able to advertise to Hillary’s supporters, right under her nose, without getting any attention. Dark Posts combined with sophisticated targeting and statistical modeling successfully raised reasonable doubt with Hillary supporters sapping away electoral strength in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Facebook is media but dark posts are insurgent tactics.
Here’s what we know. Small and mid-sized companies cannot win with popular social media and content marketing tactics. Anyone with a web browser can use these me-too strategies. You must use insurgent media to find unorthodox ways to catch and hold attention.
Your Why gives your brand soul. Your story gives your brand power. Insurgent media gives your brand reach. You need all three and you don’t have any business spending a marketing budget unless you have a plan for building and deploying a Culture Brand.
I’m going to tell you something that you already know – ideas are nothing. Ideas mixed with action are something. Ideas plus action plus persistence (AKA: a system based on accountability) is everything.
You have a choice:
1: Bookmark It
Save this article for later. This is an option, a bad one, but an option. I have hard-drive folders and Evernote notebooks filled with fantastic ideas and good intentions. A better option is to put the title of this article on the agenda for your next marketing meeting. You can discuss the action items and delegate next steps.
2. Try It
You probably had an idea for an insurgent media tactic or a way to refine your story. I would prefer if you tackled the entire Culture Brand principle in a holistic way but giving a tactic a try is better than bookmarking this article. Before you dive in, answer these two questions:
“How will I know if this tactic worked?”
“Is deploying tactic the best use of my time?”
You may find that taking an extra couple of days to think through the entire Culture Brand principle will increase the chances of your tactical idea succeeding.
#3: Plan & Do
First, the bad news is that Planning & Doing takes longer. The good news is that you’ll get a great return on your investment of time. Work through the 3-Step Culture Brand Framework. Use the checklist, we’ve created for you to pinpoint issues and uncover hidden opportunities. Another option is to contact us to lead a culture branding workshop for your leadership team. Commit to refining your plan over the next year.
Story-Driven Content is Next
Next week we’ll explore Story-Driven Content, a principle that enhances Culture Branding. Buckle up.