5 Aspects of Branding to Help You Connect with Your Audience

Grow by Jim Stengel
Grow by Jim Stengel

At the day job, we get the chance to discuss topics that help to improve the company in a meeting every other week, and this time around we're taking a look at the concepts from the book Grow by Jim Stengel. By studying several brands from around the world, the book is very helpful in understanding what branding actually is and the power it has. Rather than define branding strictly through marketing terms, Stengel treats a brand as an ideal: “The brand ideals of the highest growth businesses center in one of five areas or fields, of fundamental human values.”

Those human values that he noticed fall into the following five categories:

  1. Eliciting Joy: Activating experiences of happiness, wonder, and limitless possibility
  2. Enabling Connection: Enhancing the ability of people to connect with one another and the world in meaningful ways.
  3. Inspiring Exploration: Helping people explore new horizons and new experiences
  4. Evoking Pride: Giving people increased confidence, strength, security, and vitality
  5. Impacting Society: Affecting society broadly, including by challenging the status quo and redefining categories

(If you're thinking of reading Stengel's book, I certainly recommend it. We're only covering a brief portion of the book, and there is still plenty more to learn from it.)

Those five human values, Stengel argues, are traits that we would like to see in the people we know and the companies with which we cooperate.

Very quickly, let's consider examples of each of these values. Zappos creates a joy factor through its exceptional customer service, and Starbucks offers the opportunity for connection with others and with yourself (just getting away from the world for a while). Google lets you explore, and Mercedes Benz gives a successful business person a sense of pride and accomplishment. Dove's desire to "celebrate every woman's unique beauty" is a concept of societal change rather than just a marketing gimmick.

How Do The Ideals Relate to You?

I tend to think of this website as an ongoing letter to those entrepreneurs and artists who are actively making something new and exploring new concepts. Whether it's writing a novel or creating a startup, plenty of people are out there who are doing the work and pressing towards releasing new things into the world.

As we set out on these endeavors, we have to consider which ideal we are trying to convey. Do we want to impact society, inspire exploration, or evoke pride? Are we trying to combine all five of the human values?

While I believe that no particular one of these five values is more important than the others, I do think it's essential to narrow our scope to pick one ideal. The others may relate to your efforts anyway, but the process of picking one gets you closer to delivering that ideal. It's very easy to miss out on all of them by trying to appeal to as many people as possible. By picking one, you have a framework with which to evaluate your efforts. You have an opportunity to appeal to a core value within other people.

I'm finding that the reason I write on this blog is because I want to inspire exploration. I'd certainly like to impact society and hopefully create a joyful experience along the way, but learning and trying new things delights me. I love that moment when I start to grasp a new concept and begin to see the many ways that it could affect my life or the lives of those around me. With this blog, I don't want to express expertise in one field; I want to explore as many new trends and options as possible. As I wrote earlier in the week, knowing our options gives us more choices when real need arises.

What's Your Ideal?

Does one of these human values / ideals stand out to you? Let us know in the comment section below.

Image by marxus.