Today will take away practical guidance on cultivating a unique brand identity in the modern landscape. Emphasizing the importance of being a brand "leader" instead of a "manager," Dan Hill, CEO of Hill impact, offers valuable tips to modern branding strategies using data-driven insights without losing sight of organizational value.
Matthew Cummings: What is Brands in Motion? That was the title of our podcast today and it's a concept that you've developed. So, what is Brands in Motion?
Dan Hill: In my years of working with different brands one of the things I've seen time and time again and I've even participated in and you probably have to are these great branding exercises that take months, sometimes years to get everything perfect because this is a brand that's going to last for the next 20 years or next 10 years. And it becomes a shiny object on a hill that we have to dust off every now and then and protect, and there's no fluidity to it. And to be a brand in motion is really going back to that relationship concept. If you think about marriages for example how many times have you heard a couple who's going through hard times, maybe 10 years into the relationship say, "The man I married isn't the same today", or "The Woman I used to travel with and who liked to go out and eat wants to stay home". Well, people change, organizations change, and what a brand in motion is is a brand that from the very beginning sets itself to be fluid, and be able to adjust to times, and really make that relationship one that has give and take.
Matthew Cummings: how did you come up with this concept? How is it different than that conventional view on brands that you described earlier?
Dan Hill: I kind of backed into it. I backed into it through my crisis work actually. So much of my career has been helping organizations that are in the middle of a very high-profile issue and in doing so some of the brand development things that happened at the front end of the process are what created an issue to begin with. And so, we have to go back and fix those and it just kept coming, in 20 years, over and over. I was thinking if this brand were more nimble if this brand had paid more attention to its relationships we wouldn't be facing this crisis. And so, over time in doing crisis work, the biggest thing I want to do is help organizations avoid a crisis and I think it starts actually with how you brand yourself.
Matthew Cummings: So, how do Brands in Motion then manifest itself in the work that you were doing with clients or even for you personally?
Dan Hill: Well, I mean for me and for my firm and how I position myself I think the problem with the concept if there is one is if people think that it doesn't have to be tethered in any kind of core values. And I think that's really if there is anything that's foundational it has to be around values. That's how you drive a culture, that's how you get by. For me, it's just making sure that the values are consistent and that we have that built in ability to listen to our stakeholders, our customers, our clients, and adjust as we go. And it manifests itself in our crisis prevention work because we get very into the weeds about who you are, what your identity is, what your relationship is with your main stakeholders. And when most people are looking at policies and procedures, and crisis response plans we're getting into the real details about who you are.
Matthew Cummings: What happens when brands overreach or creep on their mission or values?
Dan Hill: That's a great question. That's where we're seeing a lot of the crises that we end up working on are that it's enticing out there, sometimes in this very fast-paced world you might see an opportunity and reach beyond what you are chartered to do if you're a nonprofit or what you developed your company to do. And by reaching you can totally upset the entire, it's like riding a bicycle and seeing something and deciding to reach for it, and then all of the sudden you had a massive, you've got all kinds of scrapes up your leg. What is that called when you have a road rash? You have road rash.
The same thing happens to brands when they reach outside of that. It's just making sure that opportunities get to run through a system to make sure they fit with where you are. It doesn't mean that you don't adjust to go pursue that but you've got to make sure the foundation is ready for it and that takes time.
This podcast originally aired November 6, 2018.
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