Today is March 4th – the most commanding day of the year. So, let’s take a moment and assess – are you marching in the right direction? Brands need an ideal, a purpose, a North Star to guide them along the way. It should reflect your business’ fundamental reason for being. And, as I found while researching for my book, Grow, brands that center their businesses on the ideal of improving people’s lives resonate more with consumers – and outperform their category competitors.
Does your heritage shape your ideal?
In order to look forward, you need to look back. Your brand’s heritage is an important part of the story. And in some cases, your company grew up alongside your customers. I spoke at the National Confectioners Association meeting yesterday in Miami, Florida. The room was packed with the leading candy and chocolatier companies. These are brands I grew up with – Wolfgang chocolate bunnies in my Easter basket, trips to the Hershey Factory with my class, and eating my Dad’s Hershey cocoa fudge on Saturdays. These brands bring back fond memories for me. Lindt Chocolate has a rich history of the finest recipes and special details. Just as they pay careful attention to the secret recipe for melting chocolate within each individual piece of candy – each of those chocolates provide a special moment and create a wonderful memory for the customer. Does your brand create special memories for your customers?
Is your ideal making an impact?
Everyone is in the business of improvement – improving life, process, technology, and more. Your improvements should make an impact, even if you are a small company. Eyewear start-up Warby Parker is a great example. Not only have they improved the business of eyewear and made trendy glasses affordable for hipsters everywhere, but they have also made an impact on the world. Their Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program has donated over 500,000 pairs of glasses to those who needed them. How does your brand ideal make a positive impact?
Does your team represent your ideal?
Your team culture starts with your leadership and spreads throughout the organization. When everyone represents the ideal, or purpose, your brand begins to live it. Last month, CVS decided to forgo $1.5 billion in annual tobacco sales in order to stay true to its brand ideal. CVS leadership saw that in order to stand for health, tobacco could not be part of their business. Does your leadership team make business decisions – however tough – that reflect your ideals?
Does your ideal resonate with customers?
You should know who your consumers are and what they value. They should know who you are and what you value. Cheerios has done a fantastic job of representing what their customers value. While Cheerios has always valued the family, what the average family looks like has changed over time. Many of you remember the controversy that ensued when Cheerios first released this commercial. The ad even sparked debate online and the outcome was simple – kids don’t care. And neither does Cheerios. Cheerios didn’t back down amidst the uproar. They chose to ignore critics and show love to their core consumers – families – by following up with a growing mixed-race family in“Gracie.” How does your business reflect your customers’ values?
These questions will help you determine where your business ideals and business decisions intersect. Are you on the right path? Then take a cue from your calendar and “March Fourth!”