Making Your Brand More Human From the Inside-Out

I had the good fortune to be a part of a great “salon” last night, hosted at the Big Wide Sky agency space in Clayton, MO. The CEO of Big Wide Sky is also the founder of a non-profit called, Be Human Project.

The group is exactly what it sounds like, discussing ways for people to be more human to other people – especially in the work force.

Last night, they had a guest speaker, Jurgen Appelo. Jurgen was a manager who didn’t feel it was right to manage people, he was not close enough to know how to best manage them, so he instilled practices to manage the process instead. Jurgen has parlayed his style and tested success into a book and book tour, spanning the globe. His approach is called Management 3.0. So enough about the plugs…how did it impact me and why do you care?

As Jurgen was talking I could not help but think back to my years working for others where annual reviews were mandatory. And while you are likely saying…”how else do you capture feedback on your employees?”, I always found it to be a tiresome ritual that really never produced the results I hoped it would. I would be asked to asses myself, and that was then debated with my supervisor until I would just have to accept the rating that they gave me. My input was just a formality – one designed to make me feel like I had input – I knew I didn’t. I even heard several times that decisions were already made prior to my annual performance review. However, I still had to put 30-40 hours into this review…every year!

Jurgen, and others like him, represent a different way of collecting feedback and performance data. They all rely on crowdsourcing and having each other award the merits.

Once I snapped out of the bad memories of useless annual reviews, I started thinking about what this does for a brand. A brand is nothing more than a collection of the personalities of those who make up the brand (or company). When the employees of the brand are happy and productive, there is a great opportunity for the brand to be productive…and happy. Yes, brands can be happy!

I focus my work on brand positioning and brand strategy. A major component of how your brand is positioned is also how it positions itself internally. How do you recruit talent? What is your brand message to the people who will be representing your brand? Believe me, the projected image of your brand is critical. Consumer and potential consumers need to see what is unique and valuable about your brand…but if you really think about it…doesn’t that actually come from within? It starts with having a happy brand on the inside where people want to work and want to do better. That drives success for the masses.

My thanks to Eliot Frick for starting the Be Human Project and for hosting a group of people who want to make a change. Last night helped me think a little deeper about what makes brands great, and how changing things on the inside can have great impact on the external.


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