This is a great question, and one we’ve happily answered many times in the past 20 years. Now, in a world that looks and feels very different than it did 18 months ago, we’d like to take another run at describing our view of this juicy topic.
First off — spoiler alert — your brand is not your identity
When most people hear the word branding, they think of corporate identities, logos, core values and maybe even a value proposition. But branding is so much more all-encompassing and expansive, and lives in every message, experience and expression that a company or organization puts into the world. In short:
- Your brand is your word. It’s how you describe yourself and tell your story—both the language you use and the tone of voice it’s expressed in. It is also your word in the sense of the promise you are making to your audiences and the world. Are you watching—and keeping—your words?
- Your brand is your deed. It’s how you show up—how you behave and what you do. It lives in your service offerings and the way you treat people. It is experiential and evidenced in the tangible interactions people have with you. Are you paying attention to your actions?
- Your brand is your presence. It is the impression you make with every presentation, package or post you put forth. It is expressed graphically through color, typography and imagery of course, but it also emerges in the stance you take and the vibe you emit. Are you putting your best foot forward?
So what does this look like in practice? A peek behind the curtain
In July an internationally renowned earth artist (@morningaltars) created an exquisite installation on the grassy lawn at Lakewood Cemetery that was a catalyst for conversations about beauty, grief and loss. The public was warmly welcomed to this free event that was well organized, publicized and attended. On the one hand, this might look like just another summer happening, but a peek behind the curtain reveals all kinds of “branding” input and influence.
- This now-annual event was conceived 3+ years ago by Spyglass to help Lakewood live into its vision of being recognized as “a local treasure and industry pioneer who reimagined the role of a cemetery in modern life… and made memorialization more relevant, accessible and inviting for new audiences and generations” (a vision statement we crafted with them).
- We made the introduction to the artist.
- We named the event (Midsummer Memorial Mandalas) and helped them describe it in language that would resonate.
- We helped them create an entire category of offerings of a similar nature called the Lakewood Experience Series, and recommended they create a new opportunity for communal remembering called the Living Memory Tree.
- We volunteered at the event, shared it socially and invited others to attend in order to introduce them to Lakewood.
From outside in to inside out
In our role as brand advocates and catalysts for the past 4 years we have encouraged Lakewood to explore offerings that were a significant departure from the traditional cemetery services and mindset. We nudged them to “walk the talk” and have continually given them ideas of ways they can do this: in presence, word and deed. We helped them believe in (and live into) the ambitious vision they aspired to until it became embraced and internalized throughout the organization—until they could see it, feel it and own it themselves. This is branding that started from the outside in and become “embodied” from the inside out.
Can you do this yourself? Um, maybe
You are an expert at what you do, and may have extraordinary instincts when it comes to branding. But chances are, you aren’t living the full depth and potential of your brand. At Spyglass, we help our clients see possibilities and opportunities that aren’t always visible to them within their more internally (and industry) focused perspective. We help them reach out to new audiences and markets with ever greater relevance and impact. And we jump into the fire AND cheer from the sidelines when they want to bring new ideas to life.
Wondering what kind of “branding” magic we might cook up for you? Let’s talk. : )