What Great Brandss Do - 1As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the best branding books I’ve read recently is What Great Bands Do by Denise Yohn. An amazing quote in the book that hit me was:

“The challenge then becomes what I often call the ‘head + heart + hands and feet’ problem. For your employees to understand, embrace and deliver your brand they need to know its values in their heads, feel inspired by them in their hearts and then put them into action with their hands and feet.”

When leading brand workshops for clients (both executives and employees) we let them know there are “Three Cs to a Strong Brand”: clarity, consistency and constancy. While those principles certainly hold true, Yohn’s quote helped me realize there are also “Three Hs to a Strong Brand.”

So here are the three “Hs” of a strong brand:

  • Head—You brand starts with your strategy (head). You must determine your vision and your values. If your brand doesn’t stand for something it stands for nothing. Do you know what your brand is about? You must also determine target audiences. Your bank or credit union cannot be all things to all people. Is your brand all over the place?

    • Action step: Develop a comprehensive strategic brand plan that differentiates you from your competitors.
  • Heart—Your brand must connect with something emotional. Harley-Davidson does not sell motorcycles: they sell a lifestyle. Your credit union or bank is not selling checking accounts or loans. You are making dreams (vacations, new cars, etc.) possible.

    • Action step: Tell stories about consumers who use your financial products and services and love you. A huge part of brand building is story building.
  • Hands—No matter what brand strategy you develop in the “head” phase, ultimately it’s your employees who must put that brand in action. This what Yohn is addressing in her quote. Your brand will live or die based on how your employees execute it.

    • Action step: Conduct brand training for your employees. Not something generic but a program that is customized to who you are as an organization.

Ultimately, your executive team must lead your brand, your employees must live your brand and your targets must love your brand. If you focus on the “Three Hs” of branding your brand is going in the right direction.