It’s not about your brand personality. It is who you are that matters.
In the classic 80’s film “Say Anything,” John Cusack’s non-jock, outsider character is asked how he got Diane Court, the most elusive girl in school, to go out with him. After stating the obvious (“I called her up”), he ultimately responds with, “I’m Lloyd Dobler.”
Who you are matters. Not just what you make or sell (or process), but who you are.
Most successful marketing companies and ad agencies talk about the importance of “defining your brand personality.” But this misses the point. I don’t define my personality as Nancy. I am Nancy. That means that everything I do, and don’t do is who I am. Everything. That defines my personality. Not what I say my personality is.
Similarly, many companies talk about the need for a mission statement. But again, this misses the point. Too many mission statements read like a soulless, uninspiring corporate-speak: “Be the leading, most respected manufacturer of blah blah blah.” Hardly the catalyst that will inspire people to immediately stop what they are doing and buy your stuff.
So, who are you? What matters to you as a company?
Patagonia gets it right. They talk about their mission in terms of “Our Reason for Being.” Strong words that mean something real. Patagonia’s Reason for Being is to “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” It is clear. I know who they are. And, because of this I choose them over other options.
But it isn’t just what they say – it is what they do. And don’t do. Their Reason for Being is reflected in everything:
It is reflected in how they source and manufacture their clothing. They created “Footprint Chronicles” allows people to track a product’s impact from design through delivery.
It is reflected in their efforts to minimize waste and (incredibly) consumption. Beyond encouraging customers to make repairs themselves, Patagonia takes back their products even after years of use for free (or affordable) repair or replacement. They even went so far as to run a Black Friday ad urging people to NOT buy a jacket or anything else that they don’t need.
It is reflected in how they invest their grant and charitable dollars – participating in “1% for the Planet,” an alliance of businesses that pledge to give 1% of their profits to grassroots environmental groups.
It is reflected in how they treat their employees. They offer health benefits to everyone, including part-time, retail, and warehouse staff. They even subsidize child care and counseling.
It is even reflected in their corporate governance. California recently passed B Corporation Legislation, allowing corporations to formalize a triple bottom line approach to business (profits, planet and people). Patagonia was the first in line to register with this new incorporation.
Patagonia doesn’t have an “environmental steward” brand personality. It is who they are.
So, who are you?
What is your company’s Reason for Being?
- How is that reflected in everything you do?
- Are there aspects of how you act as a company (to your customers, your suppliers, your employees, the planet, etc) that is inconsistent with this?
Lloyd Dobler would agree. It is a dare-to-be-great situation.
For more information on how Compass(x) Strategy can help you with your Reason for Being, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.