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Healthy Growth + Brand Loyalty = MISSION SUCCESS

We all want people, especially new people, to become entirely committed to our brand (culture/mission/values). Yet, commitment to the brand can, at times, create an adverse tension between brand identity and the fresh energy coming from new blood. The process of outsiders becoming loyal insiders is one filled with increasing tension unique to the brand you’ve created.

Tension is good, but only to a point. Too much tension and you are in danger of snapping. Too little tension and you have languishing energy. Thus, sticking with only the old guard can mean stagnation at best and death at worst, while increasing influx of new blood can bring a fresh vitality but distort the brand altogether.

So the challenge becomes, “How do you attract and keep new people while preserving healthy brand loyalty?”

Here is where Ben Arment stimulated my thinking with five perspective changes:

  1. Treat new blood with the exact same respect and attention you give to the old guard. Notice, you don’t stop caring for those loyal to the brand, you simply treat those new to it with a bit more time and attention. Who needs the attention, the one who is “all in” or the one who is teetering on a commitment?
  1. Drop the jokes that only an insider would understand and find humorous. Appeal to the masses, not those who already know the, “brand speech.” Inside jokes leave new people feeling like the “third wheel” at the party.
  1. Clarify brand lingo and culture as soon as you can, in as plain language as possible. Some parts of brand identity must be said up front since they are irreducible. Make sure to only force as much of that lingo as possible on new people (as you continually lead them towards other nonnegotiables of brand identity). Think process, not event.
  1. Leave all the politics and privileges out. No one likes jumping through hoops or appealing to old guard politics to gain access. New people will simply move on. Although certain privileges comes with time and loyalty, makes sure that does not hinder new people from joining in as soon as possible at appropriate levels.
  1. Never put your personal bias ahead of the true brand. If everyone adapted a brand to his or her personal likes and dislikes, the brand becomes diluted as it cascades through the organization. We all have biases and there is nothing wrong with admitting and recognizing that truth. What must never be done is allowing that bias to contaminate the brand.

Taking into consideration these five challenges leads to two powerful questions:

  1. What is hindering new blood from becoming loyal to your brand? (For example, does one of the previous five ideas resonate with issues in your organization? Or would you add one to the list?)
  1. What tension does your brand identity cause that you could actually use to your advantage, if managed well? (If tension is present, why not maximize it for potential growth?)

In the end, no organization wishes to capitulate to being stagnant. Nevertheless, organizations that thrive in both brand identity and increased growth are ones that tackle with unbiased ferocity the problematic issues mentioned here. Simplistically, it all comes down to what you say and how you say it (body language included). So in every interaction, use your words, and the actions that accompany them, wisely.

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Note: these are my notes adapted from a Century Leadership directional team discussion with Ben Arment – author, speaker, and creator of STORY in Chicago (www.benarment.com)