By Eve Vlemincx.
When we think of branding, images of catchy names and striking logos often come to mind. Many believe that choosing a cool name is the first step in building a brand. However, there's a crucial underlying process that is often overlooked: a brand's essence isn't solely determined by its name. The foundations of business hold greater significance.
After all, you wouldn't start building a house from the roof...
Essence before elegance
The heart of your organization, and by extension your branding, is formed by its foundational principles. Before even considering a name, questions like "who are we," "what do we stand for," and "why do we do what we do" must be answered.
First essence, then appearance. Imagine decorating a cake before it's fully baked. Even if you manage to pull it off, the result remains superficial. The same applies to names and logos. Without dedicating attention to the aforementioned questions, we create an attractive facade with an empty core.
While a name might be catchy and a logo visually appealing, without substance, authenticity is lacking.
We all know those children who incessantly ask us, "why?" This stems from an essential human need. If we don't understand why we do what we do, it loses its meaning and weakens our motivation. Motivating a child without them grasping the reasons behind their tasks is a challenging feat. The same goes for our teams and associates.
Before even entertaining the thought of a name, we need to understand why we exist. If we, ourselves, don't know why we do what we do, how can our audience know or understand? With a clear purpose ("why" – the reason behind what we do), we gain a compass that threads through our decisions and organization. This compass guides us through turbulent times toward a meaningful impact.
Identity: Beyond the superficial
It's imperative to comprehend who we genuinely are as an organization. A firm that tries to be something it's not quickly pays the price of inauthenticity.
When we understand who we are, it influences our interactions and resonates with our target audience.
Values: The Organization's DNA
An organization's values serve as a moral compass. They define what we stand for and are our non-negotiables. Values that are authentically conveyed and perceived as such instill trust and lay a solid foundation. A brand devoid of genuine values is nothing more than a façade.
Vision: The picture of the future
A vision fosters innovation, growth, and success. It's not a vague dream. Without a clear vision, an organization risks getting lost in ambiguity and being unable to chart its course effectively.
"If you don't know where you're going, every road will take you there."
The Name & Logo
The final steps involve the name and logo. Even these are not arbitrary exercises; they must reflect the aforementioned foundations in their identity.
Selecting a brand name and designing a logo should not be the starting point of branding. To infuse authenticity into an organization, the foundational principles must be laid first. Once this is clear, an appropriate name follows naturally. It's akin to the cherry on top of a carefully baked cake – the finishing touch that brings everything together in a sweet and meaningful manner.
Starting with the cherry, no matter how appealing, leaves it merely as a cherry on an empty cake. A brand built from within is not a facade but a living, breathing entity that resonates with sincerity, integrity, and mirrors the core of the organization.
About the Author Eve Vlemincx is a strategic advisor with expertise in a wide array of areas including legal digital transformation, innovation and leadership. She serves as an advisory council member for Harvard Business Review and is a Course Facilitator at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Eve is highly sought after as a keynote speaker and guest lecturer in various professional settings. Notably, she has been honored as a five-time recipient of the Stanford GSB LEAD Award.
Operating at the dynamic intersection of legal and business, Eve holds certifications from esteemed institutions such as Oxford, Harvard, Kellogg and Stanford Graduate School of Business. Additionally, she brings substantial experience as a seasoned lawyer specializing in corporate law and restructurings.
Eve's guiding philosophy is centered on working smarter, not harder, as she helps individuals and organizations navigate the complexities of today's rapidly evolving landscape.