When is the right time to define your branding strategy?
Your branding strategy is the north star of your business.
It defines your unique and resonant promise, explaining why customers should choose you. That promise then filters your decision making so that whatever you do as a business makes your promise even more true.
Define your pole star
Before you can become loyal to your Pole Star, you need to know what that Pole Star is. You’ll want to choose a promise that’s aligned with your values and strengths, fueled by a deep customer need and unique to your business. You’ll want her to be rooted in some amazing truths about your business today, while being expansive and ambitious for years to come.
Choosing that North Star will be one of the heaviest strategic tasks you will do as a leader. And not all times are equally conducive to such a mental load. The essential condition for this moment is psychological security. Your psychological security. You need to feel psychologically secure to do this important job well.
What UN psychological security looks like:
- Stuck in today’s worries, with tunnel vision to solve an immediate problem
- Nervous about being judged or belittled
- The phone rings, the inbox beeps
- Late for the next meeting
- Multitasking, sorting, shallow thinking
What psychological security looks like:
- Focused on one thing – something important but not urgent
- Things are calm but also energizing
- There is a feeling of expansion and possibility
- Feel like you belong
- Feel bold and free to challenge limiting beliefs
- Can imagine a bright future
You might be thinking, “Well this will never happen. We are busy. We are always mired in the daily vortex of activity. In fact, this rationale explains how rare it is for a company to have an expansive North Star.
It will always be easier in the short term to get bogged down in solving the short term concerns of the day. It takes a will of steel to create the conditions for the success of the exercise.
So you really have to to want this daring North Star. You must have decided that it’s worth putting importance above urgency. It takes courage and determination.
Some times are for survival
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many leaders were scrutinizing the lion’s mouth. Anxiety pervaded the staff and the professional. Some of the heartbreaking questions that worry us: Can I prevent layoffs? How to stay safe? How will my elderly parents fare? How will my children (and I) cope with school and daycare closures? Should we change the rates? Should we completely change our business model? How to stay relevant?
Looking into the Lion’s Mouth in Spring 2020, we simply sought to survive the encounter. We were in a hyper-alert, fight-flight-freeze state that reduced our short-term vision. We lacked a sense of physical security, let alone psychological security.
The less secure you feel, the shorter your vision. This contracted state helps us survive, but is not ideal for helping us thrive. This is useful for dealing with a lion in the savannah, but not for creating an expansive future.
Spring 2020 was not the perfect time to create a branding strategy.
It’s always helpful to have a pole star, but when it’s especially helpful is when your vision is contracted and you can’t see the path. When you most need a pole star is sometimes when you are least able to conceive of it.
Bruce Lee once said that in times of crisis, you don’t rise to the occasion, you fall back into your previous practice. This rings true with brands too. In times of crisis, you tend to behave like you did before. If you had built and cultivated a brand promise with honesty and determination before the Crisis, then this North Star was an invaluable asset during the Crisis.
Now is the time
If you start to feel that your seizure is fading, that you have your feet under your feet again, don’t let this opportunity pass by.
There will never be a perfect time to carve out a safe psychological space for building a branding strategy. But the fruit of this labor defines your path to prosper. You decide if it’s worth it.
If you’re no longer looking into the lion’s mouth and know how much guidance you needed then, now is the time to embrace a brave branding strategy. Take a step back and devote yourself entirely to making your pole star. It will be a gift that you will give to your future self and to your future business.