Brand Matters: Do You Need to Recharge?
It seems like many of the brand leaders I talk with these days are running on empty. I hear things like, "Great idea, but there's no time for that—we're in budget mode." Or, "We run at 1,000 MPH around here; we could never get that scheduled!" Or, "I'm just putting out fire after fire; I can never look up."
I can just feel the tightness in their shoulders, the tension in their necks, the splitting headaches. These brand leaders have been running hard and fast for so long now that this frenzied pace is their new normal. They are depleted on a daily basis—usually before their days even begin! There are many times I encourage them to breathe, just for a few minutes. To back way from the computer. To put the Blackberry down. To stop multi-tasking, multi-minding, multi-projecting, if even just for an hour.
Listening to and observing all of this stress in brand leaders worries me. I am concerned first and foremost for these leaders' personal long term health costs in operating this way. I am also concerned about their brand's overall spirit and vitality. How can they stay on top of their brand games in this ever-changing world if their batteries are on low and becoming more and more drained? How can these leaders possibly create enriching brand experiences for their customers if they are out of juice? Where do these brand leaders find time and energy to care about their customers' opinions after all?
First, I want to call a corporate-wide time-out—just a few minutes (yes, even in the midst of this busy fourth quarter season!)—to sit back and reflect on why you are doing what you are doing.
Are all of these activities truly brand enhancing? Are all of these activities prioritized? Jim Collins, author of bestselling "Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... and Others Don't" and creator of the personal and corporate "stop doing" lists says, "If you have more than three priorities, then you don't have any."
Do all of these priorities and projects add value and promote your brand's mission? Might it be time for your brand to craft your own "stop doing" list?
Get to Know One Another
Another way to restore your brand spirit is to simply be with your fellow brand ambassadors. That's right. Just hang out together doing something not at all related to work. I don't mean anxiety-producing ropes courses or reveal-all-Kumbaya sessions. I simply mean that you should spend some time with your co-workers and get to know them a bit outside of the cubicle or conference room. Find out what brings them joy. Find out what ticks them off. Find out what they like to do when they aren't working.
I recently led one of these spontaneous pre-dinner conversations with a group of highly-motivated professionals, many of whom have worked together for almost 10 years. They all learned something new about each other that they didn't know before.
These tidbits reveal our humanity to one another and help us treat each other less like cogs in corporate machines, and more like creative, unique individuals. For many of us, most of our waking hours are at the workplace. Why not take a few minutes to befriend your fellow co-workers?
Reconnect With Your Customers
And, if your brand spirit is still a bit deflated, why not connect with the reason you're in business after all? Customers who love you! Listen in on some calls. Scan your Facebook and/or Twitter comments. Scroll through the customer emails or product reviews.
If at all possible, go be with some of your customers directly. Go to your retail store. Go on sales calls. Pick up the phone and call them. Take a customer out to lunch. Just listen and observe. Ask them why they love doing business with you. Take notes. Smile.
Yes, breathing, time-outs, creating "stop doing" lists, hanging out with your co-workers and customers—these really are the best gifts you can give you and your brand this holiday season. I promise! yy
Andrea Syverson, author of "BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants," is president of IER Partners, a strategic consulting company specializing in innovative brand and merchandising directions. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org