What makes a company brand magnetic -- one that seems to effortlessly attract customers, revenue, media attention and employees alike? It only requires a look at nature itself to discover the answers. Invisible forces such as magnetism and gravity have a constant influence on our lives. They govern us without our awareness of their presence. Their enegies are not overt and go largely unnoticed, yet they govern so much of what we do.
Just as in science, magnetic companies and brands are ones that are aligned and "pulling" in the same direction. Magnetism works when electrons are charged and line up in the same direction. In much the same way, when businesses are charged behind a unified and coherent message, employees and customers alike will begin to align themselves to that vision. The target customer is no longer a "target", since they begin to find you. The emphasis slowly shifts from atrificially capturing customers to naturally attracting them.
Magnetism then comes from a distilled and powerful sense of purpose. This purpose revirberates throughout the organization and intuitvely instructs the organization's members to act and behave in ways that promote this vision. The cost of top down driven, internal messaging is greatly reduced. The process becomes more natural, more fluid and instinctive.
So is this purpose the same as a mission statement or brand strategy?
Yes and no. Most mission statements are written in boardrooms and sit in nice plaques on the walls. Purpose is something that comes from the heart, and it needs to come from the heart of top management. Again, this is about alignment, and if top management is all about maximizing the bottom line, it cannot create a magnetic company whose mission statement expounds the virtues of altruistic, self sacrificing service. It just won't vibrate, resonate and ultimately attract the desired customer. So you can also say magnetic companies are genuine in nature. Their values are consistant at all levels of the organization. Profit then becomes a natural byproduct of doing what the company believes in, whether it's delivering on price, quality or service.
How does a company find its purpose? It's already there, waiting to be acknowledged and promoted. For example, many owners I've dealt with felt passionate about their quality, but also felt compelled and pressured to compete based on price. They are brainwashed by their sales force or other outside influences to believe they can only compete by selling for less. When these company presidents/owners begin to realize there is an audience that doesn't buy on price alone, they become emboldend and that energy translates throughout the company- enegizing everyone. Soon "the talk" is about product quality and innovatioins, new customers appear and old (time consuming, complaining, incongruent) ones begin to leave. The company, the brand, the image, begin to align and "pull" in a quiet but powerful way.
An Optometrist came to me years ago, desparte to create an image of speedy service, to combat the one hour vision centers that were devouring the market. When I asked him how long it took him to provide the service, his reply was "one week, but I think I can get it down to three days". Someone looking for glasses in one hour is not going to be thrilled with waiting three days. So I designed a campaign with a headline that read "We take time." It went on to extoll the vital role of vison in our lives and why it's important to wait to make sure an eyeglass prescription is done right by a professional. The doctor felt I had completely missed his point, but he trusted my judgement and ran the campaign. The phone began to ring and one lady said "I haven't had my prescription filled because I was waiting to find someone who took more than one hour to 'grind' my glasses". He has run the ad for over 15 years and "taking the time" has now become his position in the market. His revenue, share and bottom line all increased when he became comfortable and congruent with who he was and what he did best- regardless of the market.
Transforming a company or brand from mediocre to magnetic requires refocusing on the passion that created it and aligning all else around it. Rather than chasing the market, the market will find you. And that makes work, and life in general, much more attractive.
About the Author
Phil's life goal of "creating environments where people thrive" reflects his desire to assist in both personal and corporate growth. With 18 years experience as the president and owner of a full service advertising and branding firm, Phil posseses a marketing "sixth sense" that has helped launch several national and internet companies. Phil resides with wife Michelle and four energetic offspring outside Asheville, North Carolina.<
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