Every brand we work with is entirely different: What they do. What they stand for. Their why. But there is one consistent aspect that determines their short-term buy-in and long-term success:
Positivity, however, is something that cannot be manufactured. It must be infused in the brand, its people, and its culture. It is built into the DNA of every interaction. When it happens habitually, it becomes undeniable.
No matter if it’s a foundational brand position, a full-scale ad campaign, or an intra-company memo, there must be positivity in every communication. It becomes a cultural habit. And it breeds excitement for the days, weeks, and years ahead.
Positive brands win by presenting an irresistible draw.
A brand is not just what you say. It’s the experiences. With people. With environments. With technology. With packaging. With social media. With the buying process. With the phone. With every. Last. Thing.
Positive brands delight customers as a primary part of their mission.
You cannot get there without an intentional and and inspirational target. The entire organization must understand why it exists and where it’s going in order to leave behind a transactional mindset and move toward a more foundational, relationship-based approach. Everyone should feel empowered to unfailingly do the right thing.
Positive brands are always focused on the bigger story while executing the smallest details.
How to get there.
Create the roadmap.
There is no positive direction without an inspiring destination. This is the most difficult step. It takes inclusion. It requires honesty on a level that can be uncomfortable. The roadmap is about tearing an organization down in order to improve, distill, and create a bright, shiny place to which everyone is headed. It is the where. And the why.
Draw from existing truths.
Authenticity is required if you are to create a sustainably positive brand. You must draw from the current best of you in order to multiply your strengths. Acknowledge your historical faults and how you plan on transparently addressing them. There is greatness in every brand, ready to be loudly and proudly presented to the world.
Make the hard calls.
This is not just a brand exercise. This is a cultural movement. So it demands commitment to doing whatever it takes. This is about your people’s willingness to either get on board or move on. This is about systems and processes that either fit the vision or need to be replaced. With transformative, lasting change comes turbulence, commitment, and short-term uncomfortable decisions.
Institutionalize. Educate. Train.
This is not a momentary change. This is boldly claiming the very core of who you are and why you exist. And this shift to positivity must be a positive experience in and of itself. Creating the rules and helping people implement them should be joyful. A playbook must be created for all future team members. HR should be heavily involved so that you’re bringing in exemplary candidates.
Scrutinize every touchpoint.
Understand your customer. Look at your world from their perspective. Not how you think they should be interacting with you, but how they actually do in practice. Identify and immediately address weak points. Joy should come in every encounter, in every form. Your brand is only as positive as its weakest point.
Infuse positivity into every channel.
If you’re going to do it, do it well. Whatever the channel, it must always live up to your brand’s relentlessly positive standards. If your organization were a person, they should be the type you always enjoy connecting with and who always does the little things exceedingly well. This is not merely following best practices. This is emerging as something rare and radiant.
Never. Let. Up.
Positivity is something that can be captured, measured, and continuously improved both externally and internally. Truly positive brands never put things on cruise control. They capture stories. They turn negative experiences into positive opportunities. They grasp the bigger picture of helping improve people’s lives and society — not just themselves.
What positive brands never do.
Be the best brand/organization you can be. Comparing yourself to others immediately takes you out of the positive mindset. In fact, do not be afraid to compliment and point out your competitors’ strengths.
Stop thinking like a product or service. Start acting like an experience that begins with marketing, continues through the courting/buying process, and then never stops.
Create a facade with no truth
The worst possible mistake is to build a positive brand that collapses under real-world conditions.
Keep secrets/obscure reality
If something negative happens, own it. Address it. Make good. Relentlessly positive brands are incapable of burying truths. They are transparent and even look to draw on the negative as an example of what will be improved.
Jim Hume is the owner and principal of Phire Group.