Issue 24, Fall 2011
Several years ago, I was brought into a project to help a medical practice rebrand itself with a new name and logo. The practice consisted of 12 physicians, six of whom were on the verge of retirement and six who were relatively young and had no thoughts of leaving the practice anytime soon.
For more than two years, they had been bickering among themselves about whether or not they should change the name of the practice; if so, what should the new name be? Should they change their antiquated logo; if so, what should it look like? It came down to them not even being able to decide on what colors they should use to help define their look and brand.
Frustrated, the graphic designer this practice had hired called and asked if I could help get this organization beyond these impasses. What the designer and I decided was that I would interview each of the docs individually and in confidence, then we'd jointly present the findings to the entire group, along with our recommendations.
After all the interviews were completed, what became clear was that these docs agreed on a lot more than they disagreed on. Their mistake over the last two years had been that they had focused on their differences rather than on the things they could mutually come to grips with, and as a result had ferociously dug their heels into positions they could not get out of.
By bringing the common ground to their attention and encouraging them to move to it, within two months they had a new name and new logo, with colors they could all agree on, as well as a new, invigorating attitude toward their practice.
Like many of you who are managers and leaders of organization, I used to see my consulting role as being that of a troubleshooter. I believed my sole fiduciary responsibility to my clients was to discover what was wrong with their organizations, rarely giving much consideration to what may be going on that was right.
Was I wrong! But it goes further than that.
The other lesson I've learned over the years, which relates to an organization's brand, is that our jobs as managers, leaders and consultants isn't to work with or for organizations, but rather to work with and alongside people. To help bring them together. To show them where they agree rather than disagree. To learn what makes them tick and what motivates them to get up each morning to come to work. Is it just the paycheck or is it something else?
How can we tap into what may make them perform better? What is it that we can do to transform what they passively perceive as a job into what they passionately come to believe is a valuable mission?
An organization is defined as a social unit of people, systematically structured and managed to meet a need or to pursue collective goals on a continuing basis.
Bottom line: Without people, with all of their talents, skills, diversity — and, yes, faults — what we think of as organizations would be nothing more than soulless collections of bricks and mortar.
In many respects, your organization's brand is a referendum and reflection on how it treats its people. My experience working with many organizations over the years has taught me that the better its people are treated — including employees, customers, clients and volunteers — the better the organization's brand.
It's often that simple.
As always, I look forward to receiving your feedback, questions, success stories and branding challenges. Also, if you are in need of a motivational speaker, trainer, branding consultant/coach, or management consultant who can help you answer the questions: Who are we? What do we do? How do we do it? And should anyone care? I invite you to for more information.
In the meantime, good luck with your branding! — Larry
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