I’m often asked why some brands succeed and others fail. Ikea’s ability to stay on message and maintain focus on its core vision is one of the secrets. They have an induction process. When any senior manager begins working at Ikea, they’re shown to their new office. Much to their surprise, the office is empty. There’s not a chair or a bookshelf in sight, let alone a desk. Within minutes, a few warehouse workers arrive with a stack of boxes containing all the components of an office—a desk, some chairs, bookshelves, and lamps. Attached to the packaging is a welcome message inviting them to personally sample the company’s wares.
When a brand truly lives its vision across every touch point and in every possible scenario, predictable as well as unpredictable, it becomes clear how well managed the brand is. I have a simple rule of thumb: If a brand can describe its core values and philosophy on its business card without resorting to a detailed description, then the brand becomes a full representation of its vision.
If a brand can describe its core values and philosophy on
its business card without a detailed description, the brand
becomes a full representation of its vision.
A company that lives its vision will indeed be able to communicate its vision on its business card without having to explain it. If you’re puzzled about how this would be possible, then think of what an Ikea business might look like. Bear in mind that Ikea is all about DIY—do it yourself. How do you think their design philosophy translates onto their card?
My mantra when building any brand is that a company must live their vision and stay true to their philosophy. Ideally, every core value that they have should be able to be expressed on a business card. If you’re able to crack the business card challenge—you’ll be able to crack every touch point your brand have with its customers.
We live in a super-cluttered world where no one has time for anything. We’re bombarded with text messages, TV commercials, billboards, and online ads, and so companies need to know what they stand for. It’s a fact that you cannot remember more than three television commercials in a row, let alone recall the design of your average business card unless they manage to rise above the cacophony and stand out in a way that’s completely relevant.
Why is this so important? Well, if you’re really serious about building a powerful brand, you will need to crack the code of creativity first. This will allow you to stand out in the crowd, and more importantly claim ownership of the humble business card, because if you do, you will be on the right track.
It’s the simplest and most difficult thing to do. For your brand to stand out and live its vision, you’ll have to condense what its stands for in as few a words as possible. But once people have seen one of these distinct cards, they will not forget it.
So look at your business card with new eyes. Consider what will make your brand live, without having to explain it. The day you know your card has been saved, you can sit back, raise your glass and say, “Mission accomplished.” Not only that, you can also toast the fact that you’ve created the very foundation for your future mass communication strategy.
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