Reconnect With Your Company’s Core Essence to Come Out of the Pandemic Stronger Than Ever
As we continue adapting to some of the biggest and fastest changes our country has seen to date, it can be hard to maintain a stable sense of what your company stands for. Despite all the new developments and obstacles, an organization can rise up stronger and more secure than ever before.
Yes, I really believe that — and I believe it starts with redefining or recommitting to your organization’s identity and essence.
To Move Forward, Return to Your Core
In the work I do with clients, I urge people facing difficult times — like the COVID pandemic — to reconnect with the cores of their companies. That’s the best way to weather the storm and come out the other side more powerful than ever.
Let me offer an example. Even Disney, a company that undoubtedly took some huge hits over the last year, is still Disney. And the company isn’t staying down. Rather than waiting for the tides to change, Disney started moving forward by returning to what it stands for at its core.
What does Disney stand for? What is its essence? For me, the first words that come to mind would be “magic,” “imagination,” “joy,” and “child-like freedom.” Consider how the company’s movies and theme parks have brought adventure, fantasy, and excitement to millions, likely billions, of people worldwide. With the launch of its streaming service, Disney+, Disney has been able to keep that core identity intact throughout the pandemic, delivering joy directly to consumers in their own homes. Subscriber counts for the service skyrocketed during 2020, eventually reaching more than 100 million.
Disney’s example shows that having a strong core is necessary to weather a time like this. It responded to an economic crisis by reinvesting in its core brand and delivering the promise of that brand in a new way. Disney also shows us that it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been crushing it: Challenges will always arise, and you can get through them by going back to your brand.
Unfortunately, most organizations don’t do this. They don’t return to their essences in difficult times. But that creates an opportunity for you: If you recommit to your company’s identity, you’ll separate your organization from everyone else in your space right now.
Do You Know Your Brand?
Why do so many companies struggle to reconnect with their essences? An organization’s essence is its brand — and in my experience, many companies’ brands are poorly defined.
Some organizations don’t even know what a branding statement is. If they do, they don’t have a clearly defined one, nor do they have a solid sense of their organizational essence as perceived by both customers and the company itself.
When working with a client, I help them get in touch with the company’s core identity by helping them define their branding statement, mission statement, and company values. A big part of the process involves clients getting back in touch with who they really are. That’s especially important today when so many of us are (understandably) caught up in the chaos of everyday life.
Part of this process — and this is indeed a process — would be to gauge brand perception among executives, investors, customers, and staff. See if each party’s perception is congruent with the others. Often, you’ll find there is no congruency. That’s not exactly a bad thing — it’s just feedback showing you where your perception of your company differs from the world’s perception.
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Honoring Your Essence
The integral importance of branding to the rise (or fall) of an organization is often underestimated. I call an organization’s brand its “essence” because it’s really the inner core from which all the company’s external actions spring. From your marketing strategy and the way you conduct business to your company culture and the people you hire, it’s all informed by your essence, your brand.
By doing the inner work to identify and honor that essence, you close any gaps that may exist between your brand’s message and your company’s actions. When your actions and brand are aligned, your company becomes magnetically attractive — by which I mean you’ll attract the things you want to your company, whether that’s talent, business opportunities, or something else.
When my clients reach this stage, they often report feeling more energized and alive in the work they do. They tell me they are more connected to themselves and the people with whom they interact. They are blown away by the types of opportunities and results that present themselves. (Since I’ve been doing the work for so long, I am not as blown away anymore — though I still enjoy experiencing the magic with them). This is the power, joy, and wonder of making your company magnetically attractive from the inside out.
One of the things I enjoy most is watching my clients realize they, not me, are the experts on their industries, customers, and brands. Once this realization clicks, they start customizing their own strategies and methods to connect with their desired audiences. It is they, not me, who change internally, and then they experience outward positive change as a reflection of their internal transformations.
In summary, the magnetism and power you need to get your company on track in the post-COVID world already exist inside the essence of your organization. To get there, you just need to engage in awareness, introspection, and discovery.
Look behind the curtain. How did your organization start? What were your intentions or the intentions of your founders? What opportunities do you want to create for your staff and customers?
If you’re not sure how to get started, considering asking yourself discovery questions like, “When I think of our company, what are the first 2-3 words that come to mind?” You can allow your answers to guide you to the brand identity of your company. Once you find it, you can reestablish, reconnect with, and recommit to your core.
Scott Engler is an internationally recognized branding thought leader and LinkedIn specialist. Connect with him on LinkedIn to learn more.