In the morning you wake up with a perfectly clear idea. Ingenious. Unrepeatable. It is feasible. It is absolutely necessary. The whole world was waiting for it. No Chinese has come up with something like that yet. And yet it is so brilliantly simple that you will not even warm up when investors will be standing in a row and offering you millions of dollars to support you, and customers impatiently waiting behind them to pay a fortune for your masterpiece. Nights that bring such ideas are literally worth gold!
And now you have it: the first leg. You are now a heron. You stand proudly in the middle of the swamp, with your ass high above the moist ground, your head turned up to the sky and you are enjoying the enviable view. Until the first breath of wind blows across the plan or you face a starving cat. Then: trouble.
All because idea by itself is worth almost nothing. It is merely a what of our existence. What would we like to do. What have we come up with. What do we think the world needs. What is special. What is necessary. What is everybody waiting for. Yeah, what. So what!
For idea to succeed, it has to grow from idea to a brand. OK, we could also call it something else, like a successful company, nice job, strong business, great firm, serious investment opportunity, golden nugget, the future of the world, eternal glory or a table at the hottest bar in town… Brand sounds better, because it incorporates everything a company is. A brand is far from only a word, connected with marketing and advertising in the company, it is the alfa and the omega of the company. Often it is also the biggest capital of the company and it’s value can rise sky high. And for it to have at least a theoretical chance to be mentioned at the next night out with the friends drinking beer, it also needs strong foundations. Foundations that will hold it even when the butterfly flaps its wings in India, as well as when the wild storm shows its teeth.
The pillars of the Pantheon
So what are the foundations needed for that? Pillars of the Pantheon, four strong legs for the solid future?
• First, as stated earlier, a what of our existence. What do we do. What is our business. What is our product, services. Without this, it will not work, right?
• The second question to be answered is a now very famous why. Why we do what we do. Why are we here. Why have we installed a motor in a SUP, why we want the whole world to learn programming, why it is good that our customers live healthier… These are the goals of the company and the brand, the purpose and meaning of our existence, it is our reason. Why do we get up at five in the morning and hang in the office until eight in the evening. Why do we do it at all. And even where we are going, why we are on this journey and where we want to get. Where we see ourselves in the next five years (sic). Why is the second leg, another key question which it would be wise to answer at a very early stage of existence of the company.
• Then comes our inner essence. Who we are. The values of the company, business and brand… These are the rules and criteria, how we do what we do. Our gods and prayers. What we believe, what is important to us, how we communicate with colleagues, suppliers, customers, clients. What principles are used, what is the ethics of our existence… Are we are honest or a priori ingenious fraudsters? (Both can be almost legitimate answers.) Will we ever share a part of our success, or rather die than pay a dime of the taxes? These are the tools of our work and the heart of our existence. They define who we are. We are who we are. And it is a smart decision to write these answers down, for example with Helvetica Black and letters two meters high on the biggest wall of the office.
• Then, and only then comes the fourth leg. Since this one is almost no longer necessary — even chairs with three legs can stand very well, they don’t even rock. Well, sometimes they can fall if the weight leans too much to one side. But three legs are almost all you really need. The fourth leg is a much appreciated bonus. The leg that turns the chair into a firm, glorious armchair, into a solid palace, is the identity of the brand. The how we are. It’s the image of the product and our logo. It’s the company’s name and brand. It’s the design of the packaging and tenderness of the cashmere wool, a friendly greeting and one-two-three resolving of user’s complaints. It’s everything what you can see at a glance, on the outside of the buildings, on the trucks, on the web site and in an ad, it’s your tweet and your likes, in short, it’s all you often pay a fortune for to the design studio or advertising agency. How can be a competitive and glossy advantage and it’s a great manifestation of everything that reflect your what, why and who. And that’s why you should take this piece of the brand very seriously…
Voilà, now this is a solid brand. A brand that knows what works, why it works, who it is and how it is. Beautifully stable, peaceful and firm, resisting all those average achievers that wake up some mornings with a more genius what, but don’t realize that it’s just not enough to have an idea.
And this solid, what-why-who-how brand knows something else, and it has the secret fifth element, the one that keeps saving the world and propel it a step further. This brand knows that it is not enough to have four solid legs, but one must also have the solid ground beneath them. Solid foundations. And that this foundations are its people. People employed by the company. Collaborators. Leaders and managers. Suppliers. Families. All who are involved in any question of those four legs. And because it knows that this fifth dimension is the most important, this brand finds answers to the first four questions very fast, but is engaged in finding the answers to the fifth question all the time, every day. Since this question is really not even a question. Because people are not a question. They are a fact. The most important one.