What makes a company brand magnetic - one that effortlessly attracts customers, revenue, media attention and employees alike? A quick examination of the laws of nature will reveal the answers. Forces such as magnetism and gravity, while seemingly subtle, have a powerful and constant influence on our lives. They govern us without our awareness of their presence. Their “pull” is not overt and goes largely unnoticed, yet they govern so much of what we do. They are natural vs. mechanical, powerful vs. forceful and attractive vs. coercive.
Magnetism occurs when charged electrons align themselves in the same direction. As in nature, magnetic companies and brands are ones that are aligned and “pulling” together toward a common goal. Once that alignment takes place, the rest comes naturally. Target customers are no longer “targets”, since they will gravitate towards your message and products. The emphasis shifts from artificially capturing customers to naturally attracting them.
Magnetism then comes from a distilled and powerful sense of purpose. This purpose reverberates throughout the organization and intuitively guides the organization’s members to act and behave in ways that promote this vision. The cost of top-down internal messaging is greatly reduced. The process becomes more natural, more fluid and instinctive.
So is this purpose the same as a mission statement or brand strategy?
Yes and no.
Most mission statements are written in boardrooms and sit nicely on the lobby wall. Purpose is something that comes from the heart, and it needs to come from the heart of top management, not the ad agency. Again, this is about alignment, and if top management is all about maximizing the bottom line, it cannot create a magnetic company whose mission statement expounds the virtues of altruistic, self sacrificing service. It just won’t vibrate, resonate and ultimately attract the desired customer. So it can also be said that magnetic companies are genuine in nature. Their values are consistent at all levels of the organization. Profit then becomes a natural byproduct of doing what the company believes in, whether it’s delivering on price, quality or service.
How does a company find its purpose? It’s already there, waiting to be acknowledged and promoted. For example, many business owners I deal with feel passionate about the quality of their products and services, but also feel compelled and pressured to compete based on price. They are brainwashed by their sales force and outside influences to believe they can only compete by selling for less. Once they gain a true sense and understanding of their core purpose, they become emboldened, and that energy translates throughout the company- energizing everyone. Soon “the talk” is about product quality and innovations, new customers appear, and old (time consuming, complaining, incongruent) ones begin to leave. The company, the brand, the image, begin to align and “pull” in a quiet but powerful way.
An Optometrist came to me years ago, desperate to create an image of quick service, in order to combat the one-hour vision centers that were devouring the market. When I asked him how long it took him to provide the same service, his reply was “one week, but I think I can get it down to three days. ” A customer needing glasses in one hour won’t wait three days. So I designed a campaign with a headline that read “We Take Time. ” It went on to extol the vital role of vision in our lives and why it’s important to wait to make sure an eyeglass prescription is done right by a professional.
The doctor felt I had completely missed his point, but he trusted my judgment and ran the campaign. The phone began to ring and one lady said “I haven’t had my prescription filled because I was waiting to find someone who took more than one hour to ‘grind’ my glasses”. He has run the ad for over fifteen years and “taking the time” has now become his position in the market. His revenue, share and bottom line all increased when he became comfortable and congruent with who he was and what he did best - regardless of the market.
Transforming a company or brand from mediocre to magnetic requires refocusing on the passion that created it (or now drives it) and aligning everything around it. Rather than finding the right market, the right market will find you.
A good example of a company that re-invented/re-positioned itself is British Petroleum. BP recently launched a new look, but more importantly, a new focus - one that re-engineered the BP acronym to now stand for “Beyond Petroleum". (In fact, I could not find one reference to the original name on its web site). In much the same way that KFC moved away from proclaiming itself “Kentucky Fried Chicken", BP moved away from the image of a profit driven, European oil conglomerate to a globally involved, environmentally friendly organization working to explore new energy sources vs. exploiting old ones.
How congruent is your company? Are your goals, marketing, name, image and mission all aligned? Do they all communicate the same message? Are you easy to summarize and describe. To see just how “magnetic" your company is, ask yourself the following questions. . .
*What are your core competencies? (What does your company do well/best?)
*Is that reflected in the name, tag line, logo and marketing materials?
*Which of these attributes best describes your company and it's products - quality, price or service?
*Does your marketing match your attributes (i. e. do you preach quality but sell based on best price?)
*What do your customers most value about you?
*What do your employees value most about you?
*What does management hold as their top priority?
*Do all these match up? If not, why?
Taking the time to align your company with its core competencies can greatly increase the momentum and effectiveness of any organization. The intuitive, self- guiding nature of a highly congruent company makes it powerful and memorable. Apply some of these principles yourself. Rather than chasing indifferent people, you will begin attracting perfect customers. After all, it's only natrual.
Phil’s life goal of “creating environments where people thrive" reflects his desire to help others succeed. Phil has named and branded numerous regional, national and international firms. He resides with wife Michelle and four energetic offspring outside Asheville, North Carolina. His website can be viewed at http://PureTungsten.com .