The Search for the Authentic Brand

For the growth-oriented entrepreneur, it can seem overwhelming to create a new brand or to consider a rebrand. Yet, for the visionary who perseveres, the results can be life altering for the business. Identifying the brand at the core—at its molecular level—and bringing it to life within an organization creates simpler and more effective decisions, systems and processes. It also generates enthusiasm among people—both customers, constituents and employees. Imagine having the top talent knocking at your door and customers spending more on your products and services. Clearly, the brand focus is needed.


Many brand efforts never come close to these kinds of outcomes, much less to a more desirable and sustainable double-digit growth model. Yet, these kinds of results are available to every entrepreneur, marketer or human resource professional who seeks them. Then, why aren’t more businesses getting such results? Why do so many rebranding efforts fail? And, what’s the secret of those brand efforts that do achieve success?


The answer is found in the overall approach to a brand effort. Too often we see businesses focus on a logo—the visual identity—to solve their brand needs. Or, perhaps worse, they hire an ad agency to create their new brand. For the record, I am not saying a new visual identity is not required. It may be. Having a brand professional inside or outside an agency is paramount for most expeditious route to success. The caveat is that the brand work must be a partnership; it cannot be delegated and relegated to the outside brand professional alone.


Why? An organization’s authentic brand—the brand that is capable of driving strategic business decisions and can come to life inside the organization through its employees—already exists. No agency, CEO or marketer can slap a label on your organization, call it a brand and have it bear fruit. It’s like telling a bird it can swim and expecting it to do so after you have left it to its own devices. It simply won’t take; it won’t happen without the proper nurturing.


The one true, authentic brand of every small business, nonprofit, institution or organization already exists inside the entity itself. It cannot be molded into something it is not. Just as in the creation of Michelangelo’s Angel, one must chip away at the stone until the true “Angel” is revealed. Be steadfast in your devotion for the truth, and accept nothing that is inferior to the true expression of your authentic brand.


You will recognize it when you see it—its purest form will inspire your employees and your customers. We each possess the innate ability to recognize authenticity. We fall in love with brands that are true in spirit and are transparent. We are more forgiving with those brands with imperfections when their goodness is evident and their communication is clear. We bond with these beloved brands and remain loyal.


Brand efforts that start from this inside-out approach—forgoing external perceptions until the authentic brand that already exists is uncovered—get to the heart of an organization much faster. Knowing who you are is the strongest foundation for establishing differentiation. Only with this well-built foundation can we develop brand positioning that is capable of flourishing inside the organization. This leads back to simpler and more effective decisions, systems and processes. It leads to enthusiastic employees who are self-directed, high-performing and passionate about delivering upon your brand promise. This, in turn, leads to sustainable, double-digit growth—from the manufacturer to the franchisor to the retailer.