For years, I’ve had the chance to work on many interesting brand strategy projects, and worked closely with some inspired leaders. And for years, I’ve been witness to the inner workings of countless organisations as they try to balance their ambitions with their business and organisational realities.
More often than not, these brand strategy projects were focused heavily on the external expression of the brand, i.e. positioning vis-a-vis customers and competitors, brand architecture, visual identity, the tone of voice, imagery, messaging and so on. But for the most part, little attention was given to the internal manifestation of the brand.
Ready and willing … but are you able?
It has always baffled me how so many organisations are ready and willing to make (new) brand promises, without properly preparing the organisation to follow through on those promises. So I decided to do something about it.
I created ikigai to help organisations deal with the disconnect between the external and internal aspects of their brand. The name ‘ikigai’ is a Japanese concept that means ‘one’s reason for being’. According to the Japanese, everyone has an ikigai. Discovering and acting upon it brings greater satisfaction, meaning and reward. I love the simplicity of this idea and the implications it has for brands.
Simply put, it’s impossible for any organisation to deliver a great brand experience for customers when employees’ own experiences of the same brand are less than stellar. To deliver a great brand experience, the organisation must live a great brand experience, and that requires a clear sense of purpose that goes beyond just making money.
Furthermore, and contrary to popular belief, brand is not just that ‘external thing’ that marketing is responsible for; it is arguably the single most powerful tool in an organisation’s arsenal to drive successful change, growth, or transformation. It has the capacity to unite the organisation behind a shared sense of purpose, to drive efficiencies across the entire chain of organisational activities, and to build a competitive advantage that is near-impossible to replicate in the market.
When purpose and brand become united, then exceptional things can happen in an organisation. I will be exploring all these concepts in my future posts.
In the meantime, and on behalf of our team at ikigai, we wish everyone celebrating a wonderful Christmas. See you in the new year.