5 Traits of a Mission-Minded Brand
February 16, 2021
In an oversaturated noisy world, making your mission-minded brand stand out is nothing short of a challenge. There are a number of brands vying for the spotlight, so what makes your mission-minded brand stand out from the crowd?
Let’s first tackle this question by defining what a brand is.
What is a brand?
Your brand is quite simply your reputation.
Brand Strategist, Marty Neumeier, puts it like this:
“A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or company… When enough individuals arrive at the same gut feeling, a company can be said to have a brand.”
Another word for this “gut-feeling” is reputation. This reputation is the sum total of your audience’s perceptions, and a reflection of how your organization’s mission is communicated and values are practiced. What comes to your audience’s mind when they hear about you, and how are you being perceived?
While we may not be able to control that initial “gut-feeling”, we can certainly influence it by building a strong brand that engages our audience and upholds, communicates and propels our mission forward.
So what makes a brand mission-minded?
5 Traits of a Mission-Minded Brand
The one defining factor of a mission-minded brand is, of course, its mission. Yet, so many organizations, after years of operation, lose their narrow focus on that mission and begin to lack clarity in communicating it, both internally and externally. Want to test whether your brand is lacking clarity? At random, ask a few of your internal team members these three questions:
- Who are we?
- What do we do?
- Why does it matter?
What kind of responses do you get? Are they cohesive or inconsistent? Do they all tell the same story or are they fumbling for the right words? Does the team’s version of the mission match the leader’s mission?
If lack of clarity exists internally, it’s likely your audience feels this same sense of confusion. This confusion and lack of clarity on exactly who you are and what makes you different will eventually lead your audience away from your brand in search of something they can fully understand.
“Having mission clarity isn't only about being able to communicate your mission but operationalize it. Everyone has a mission, but the words don't mean anything if the people aren't living it out. Having a mission statement on your wall or website is meaningless if it isn't tied to the behavior of the brand.”
The ability to think about the world from our audience’s point of view is absolutely critical. Your audience wants a brand they can relate to – a purpose they can see themselves in. In order to connect with our audience in this way, we need a deep understanding of their wants, needs, desires, likes and dislikes. We need to connect with them where they are at. In other words, we need empathy.
The hard truth is, many organizations are doing this all wrong. They may have a general idea of who their audience is but they lack the specificity and depth of information about their audience needed to prioritize their goals and meet their unique audiences across multiple platforms.
“True empathy is about finding ways to create an experience that our audience can emotionally connect and engage with at every step of their journey.”
Utilize the data at hand to reach your audience in new ways. Tailor their experience to make stronger emotional and personal connections that build the bridge between brand and human.
“True empathy is about speaking human. Make a conscious effort to understand your audience at every level. Create personas and user profiles to identify unique needs. Then strategize on ways to meet those needs, developing user-friendly websites, educational and inspirational videos, and engaging content while keeping open lines of communication to monitor feedback.”
Your brand values are what drive your day-to-day. They are the actions you promise to uphold as an organization and the motivations that guide each and every interaction with your employees, consumers, donors, etc.
Your values are the internal part of your brand that guides the relationships you build with your employees, customers, donors, etc. It’s no surprise that today’s consumers are more likely to gravitate towards brands whose values align with their own. Not to mention, employees are also more likely to seek out or stay with an organization that shares common values.
“For many, communicating brand values publically is easy. Living them out, however, presents a greater challenge.”
We dare to ask, how are you living out your brand values? Are your values baked into your brand? Is it a brief highlight on your website or can your audience get a sense of your values throughout their entire experience with you?
One way to drive home your brand values is through messaging and video. Revisit your messaging to ensure that each message aligns with your core values. Share more about what you are doing to uphold and live out these values every day through video storytelling. Develop client testimonials that speak to the authentic experience of these values.
“It is not enough to only share you values but as a mission-minded brand you must live them out daily. Your values should be embedded in your core messaging and visual identity - throughout your website, in the stories you tell, in the posts you share, in you office culture. No matter what may change around you, your values are what ground you and drive you every day.”
What sets your brand apart from all the rest? The uniqueness of your mission-minded brand could be expressed in a number of different ways – in your mission, niche, affordability, expertise, etc. One way that brands establish their own uniqueness is through their brand collateral. Years ago brands could get by with underwhelming design, but today’s audience has both higher expectations and more options to choose from. A poorly designed logo, website or graphic can now turn your audience away at the click of a button.
Never underestimate the value of good design.
Good design builds credibility with your audience and increases loyalty and referability. Not to mention, good design can save your brand from being labeled as unprofessional or out-of touch.
“Good design should not just be beautiful, but functional and effective in accomplishing the goals of your mission. Good design doesn't shy away from innovation, but remains unobtrusive to your message and accessible to your audience - a visual language that ultimately feels unique to you.”
If you only take just one thing away from this article, remember this: Brand consistency equals brand equity.
What makes your brand valuable in the minds of your audience? Gaining brand equity. How do you gain brand equity? By building trust. How do you build trust? By being consistent.
Inconsistent branding across multiple platforms – from your website to your Instagram to your Google Ads – creates an uneven identity for your organization and further confuses your audience. Brand confusion slowly eats away at your audience’s confidence in your brand, breeding distrust and making it harder to establish the brand equity necessary for long-term trust. On the contrary, a recent study has shown that brand consistency can increase revenue by an estimated 33%.
From your Facebook Page to your Front Door, you must embody your brand through and through. Strive for visual consistency of your logo, images, color scheme and typography across all platforms to increase your memorability and recognition. Establish clear and strict visual and messaging guidelines and make it a priority amongst brand managers to steward your brand well.
“It's true what they say... consistency is key. Whether you are viewing an Instagram post or chatting with a representative online, your brand must maintain a unified voice.”
Sustaining Your Brand for the Long Haul
Overall, strong mission-minded brands are intentional about brand management. They understand the risk to their mission if they are unable to gain the clarity they need to differentiate themselves amongst the crowd and reach the audience that will, in turn, fulfill that very mission.
However, building a strong mission-minded brand doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, resources, and focused effort. If you are looking to strengthen your brand for the long haul, first identify areas that need improvement. Engage in workshops and discussions to rediscover who you are as an organization and clarify and align your brand and messaging. Conduct research through analytics and market research to understand audience needs and behavior at every level of their journey. When you’ve got enough information and insight, start restrategizing your efforts to improve your brand, messaging, visuals, and marketing.
Every mission-minded organization or business has a unique mission and story to tell. The challenge is communicating it effectively enough to capture the hearts of your audience and call them to action. So, how does your brand measure up? Can you recognize these traits in your own brand? Adopting these traits of a mission-minded brand and follow through with actionable steps to strengthen and sustain your brand for the long haul.
Interested in taking the first step to strengthening your mission-minded brand?
Here are just some of the ways in which we can help: