Know what the secret to a great brand is?
One thing – just one thing.
It’s admittedly the hardest part of creating an amazing brand. And the trick, as Jack Palance in “City Slickers” reveal, is figuring out what your “One Thing” is. It’s going to take discipline and fortitude to choose the “One Thing” your brand stands for. Allowing your brnad to be distracted, taken off course, and generally waylaid is far far easier than maintaining your allegiance to just one thing.
I was recently meeting with a local chapter of a national non-profit organization. As is true for most non-profits with national affiliations, this organization raised money for it’s national charitable fund, as well as it’s local charitable fund. (If you’re keeping count, that’s 2 things). The local organization also wanted to demonstrate it’s commitment to the local community and give away money to other non-profits in the region. (That’s 3 things). Now, in good economic times, that’s marginally acceptable, at least there is enough money to go around and support all three of it’s charitable goals. But in today’s tough economy, three things is at least one too many (and in all likelihood two too many), there isn’t enough money to go around, and unless this organization makes some difficult decisions about what the brand stands for, they will be unable to support all three charitable goals.
The bigger problem, however, is that the local chapter’s membership and potential membership doesn’t have a clear understanding of what the chapter’s reason for being (brand) is. The chapter struggles with it’s identity and providing potential donors a reason to join this chapter over others. In failing to stand for something, their brand has failed to stand for anything. The root of the problem is simple to explain and almost impossible to change.
By trying to raise money for three distinct and separate causes, the local Chapter’s brand fails to stand for anything. When the Chapter fails to stand for something, new members cannot choose to affiliate with the ideals and goals of the Chapter. Existing membership struggles to remain conscious of why they affiliated in the first place. And what we see begin to happen is an inevitable march toward obsolescence — a fundamental problem for the brand.
Every Brand Must Focus on It’s One Thing
This doesn’t just happen to non-profits, it happens to every brand that loses focus on what it’s One Thing is. Changes in staffing, business opportunities, and community needs, all have the potential to throw a non-profit or business off it’s One Thing. When that happens, unless the organization has the fortitude to check itself and return to it’s One Thing – or have the guts to step away from it’s old One Thing and create a new One Thing, then the organization will slowly slip away out of it’s donors/customers’ minds, and donation/buying patterns. One Thing — and sticking to it — that’s it, that’s the secret to a great brand.