I’ve been thinking a lot about how significant the people who in any way represent a business really are to the success of its brand. Not only does this apply to the employees of a company, but even in regard to the clients that it serves, and a number of other people who directly or indirectly—even unknowingly—represent that business. Prior to becoming self-employed in 2003, I was very fortunate to have worked with a few established companies where I learned more than I can list about design, branding, business operations, and the true value of good people and clients associated with a business. I was observing how the people internal and external of a business were very much a part of its success.
When I was in school, I found it really interesting how I became part of a group of friends who were all very similar in many ways. I wondered how we all came together. I also observed how other circles of like-minded people would form. I realized that the ‘birds-of-feather’ principle really is true—like attracts like. I’ve never stopped observing the way that happens, especially throughout my career. At the same time, I have seen people come into a group and visibly appear out-of-place and wearing feathers of a different color. Usually, in business, it’s not too long before that becomes noticeably detrimental in big or small ways, to the business’ function, atmosphere, personality, and brand. Certainly, in some cases, such people can stir up a business in a way that makes it more successful, and they may have brought that person on board for that very reason—to stir things up, possibly to attract more people like them as part of rebranding or simply revising the business’ operations and/or image. Nevertheless, any people whether they fit or not, represent and affect the business’ overall personality and brand.
While working as a self-employed designer, I have learned to be very aware of the importance of who might be reflecting my business’ brand. A business is like the hub of a wheel with the end of each spoke being a person, including clients, suppliers, family, and anyone who in one way or another can be linked back to the business. I suppose we can look at it as ‘degrees of separation’.
It’s not a matter of forming a group of clones that go out into the world and chant the company name and motto. It’s a unique group of personalities and businesses collaborating to keep true, the rim that all of the spokes connect to. People in any internal or external aspect of a business can easily see the bump when one exists. If a supplier speaks about me, they are immediately acting as a refection of my decision to use that supplier. The quality of their work, the way they conduct their business, talk about what I am like, and even refer people to me, is often the first impression of and introduction to who I am. In turn, the first introduction to my brand. The same can be said in regard to family, friends, clients, and of course employees. For example, there would be a very visible contradiction to my client list if among the pieces in my portfolio was work for an adult entertainment company. Immediately, this would be an obvious inconsistency in my brand, which, would likely jeopardize the interest of prospective clients who were attracted to me because they were introduced with the understanding that our personalities and that of our business’ on the whole, would be a good fit. I also have to remember that I am a supplier that reflects the brands of the clients I work for. I too am the end of a spoke on many other wheels. Not only that, but I represent those who refer me. My own brand inconsistencies could easily cause people to hesitate to refer or work with me because of how it would reflect on them. Yes, it can be a vicious cycle that no one wants to get caught up in. It can also be a very prosperous and exciting cycle to be a part of when we remain aware of how we allow our brand to be represented by the people who we surround ourselves with, and how we reciprocate as people who surround others.
It definitely takes intuition, a lot of questions and observations, and mistakes to increase our knowledge of and ability to have the right people representing our business and its brand. It’s one of, if not the most important aspects of brand management within any business.