As brand experience continues to take on greater gravitas in advertising, marketing, and CX discussions, it is important to realize that brand (or symbolic identity, which I use synonymously with brand) should be seen as an organizing hub for companies. Your organization’s brand identity should organize thought, action, strategy and tactics. In turn, this drives alignment and authenticity. Well-designed brands help drive alignment and reduce chaos. For the years, I’ve worked on articulating this notion with communication scholar, John Cragan, PhD. This post, and the highlighted model, are a summary of my collaboration with John over the years.
Your brand should be readily identifiable by internal and external constituents. A well-designed brand experience will manage expectations and behaviors, align activity, and help organizations more effectively create and capture value.
A well designed brand, or symbolic identity, centers activities and serves as a hub to organize: • Symbolic Activities • Affiliating Activities • Informing Activities • Structuring Activities
Symbolic Activities – Identity
At this level your brand will influence and be influenced by your symbolic identity structures (or duality of structure) relative to the identity a brand projects, what’s accepted/tolerated by a given community and what brings a community together (or drives it apart). All symbols have the potential to chain out positively or negatively, depending on audience and context.
Structuring Activities – Management
An organization’s management activities should be led by its brand/symbolic identity. The way the organizations organizes its resources, leads its people and the market, as well as how it decides what’s important.
Informing Activities – Information
Brand identity will also influence the value and perceived currency of information in an organization. The extent to which information is shared, new information is created and the facilitation information structures will be influenced by your symbolic identity.
Affiliating Activities – Relationships
Symbolic identity also influences relationships in the organization. The identity will help reduce uncertainty on how people relate to each other, resolve problems and judge one another’s value in the organization or symbolic community. A famous Disney example for cast members is "it's ok to be off task, if you're on brand."
How well does your organization incorporate its symbolic identity into its day-to-day life? How is your identity perceived by your constituents? A service organization may manage differently than a product company or an educational institution. Regardless of the type of the organization, it is imperative that brand owners realize the influence of the brand has internal and externally. Effective brands can never be all things to all people.
If you’re interested in real life applications to align your communication efforts and improve business outcomes, contact Spark Consulting Group at firstname.lastname@example.org