Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Leaders! take 'Write' action to build your organizations brand!

How leaders’ views, writings and communication build a brand.

Brand positions and messages are built carefully and painfully over a period of time. If you have a stake in the brand of your company being viewed as per your desired positioning, you have to take direct action! You need to articulate your point of view, on the brand and on other issues of relevance to your target audience or customers.

This is akin to what you say or do is what others perceive you to be. So is with the brand you own drive. As a leader you are the brand ambassador of your organization. What you say, do, comment on builds the brand. You are the brand.

If you are in a leadership position and now in your late 30’s or early 40’s. Throw you mind back to your college days when you worked so hard or not so hard at building an image about yourself. Think back on what do you wanted to be seen as? Tech savvy? Cool? Hot? Gutsy? don't give a damn..?

You very carefully dressed, talked, did things that added to that ‘image’.

More importantly, you had a clear ‘audience’ in mind for who you were building that image. He / she or they were the ones who had to see and hear about your exploits.

You ensured that the appropriate set of friends of your target audience got the right stories about you. You took a lot of care to be seen doing the appropriate stuff.

Similarly now as the leader of your organization you shoulder the responsibility of building the brand of the organization. You will have to assess who your target audience are and accordingly craft the messages and deliver.

Of course the similarity ends here. This is a lot more complex. There is no one static target audience or audience group but several – consumers, employees, the society, wall street among others.

But the fundamentals don’t change – you have to craft the right messages and the right image, and deliver the messages.

What I am also proposing here is that you have to also deliver the messages yourself. That is write in the media, speak and be visible in the media delivering the messages yourself. This has to supplement the other marketing and branding efforts.

One point of caution is this has to be seen to evolve naturally, you the lucid writer cannot be sprung overnight on to your readers. Make a small start, build over a period of time, and then your marketing could introduce you as the hidden writer.

There are several channels available for you to make a start, including web 2.0 channels. Let the thoughts be yours but there is no harm in taking the help of a good script writer or even young bloggers.

Select the topics carefully and articulate your viewpoint even more carefully. Remember, you are sending a message that each of your employees will read and read between apart from other stakeholders. Prospects researching your company will read and form opinions based on this.

This also has to be sustained over a period of time. It cannot be one blog entry in a year or one article in a year. Messages will have to be consistent and regular to build recall.

You can start from online and move to printed media. It could take time to graduate to a mainline media or press journal or magazine. But by the time you reach there your thoughts and delivery would have matured

There are now several mainline media published with regularity who seek viewpoints and encourage leaders thoughts. Several have special regular sections devoted to these.

The other tangible direct advantage of penning your thoughts down is that it will challenge you to form your strategy and to articulate it lucidly. It will provide clarity of thought and vision. It will also invite comment and inputs from employees which will further increase involvement.

From all perspectives, therefore, carrying the message for your brand yourself is an attractive proposition.