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What To Do When Wisdom Fails

Four Questions to Unlock an Inspiring Intention

by Jeremy Nulik

One of my friends is the CEO of a Midwest manufacturing company. A serial business owner, he has done the entrepreneurial thing. That is, he has grown multiple companies and sold them. This success record has given him a wise deportment in conversations. He is often characterized as someone who “tells it like it is.”

However, with this most recent company, he is facing difficulty. The relationships necessary to move the business forward are complex, and there is a threat of increased government regulations.

Some months ago, he realized he could not, through sheer will, force the company to grow. His wisdom was failing. And he felt he did not have the resources to achieve his aspirations.

My colleagues and I proposed that much of the connections he was seeking to make could be achieved through first addressing the question of the brand. Not the logo or aesthetic but the brand. He had a problem centered on articulating why the company exists and how it sees the world — in other words, the brand.

The CEO dubiously agreed that we could start with the brand. However, he quickly became frustrated with questions about the purpose of the organization. Flustered, he took out his business card and turned it over. He pushed his finger onto the card on the table. Printed on the back was a two-sentence mission statement.

You are familiar with these. Just fill out this form, and you can have one as well:

“At COMPANY, we are committed to our clients’ success. Because their success is our success. We deliver the highest-quality GOODS/SERVICES for INDUSTRIES.”

These statements can seem like enough for a brand description. The issue, however, is that this type of statement does not illuminate why the brand exists. It does not connect with humans. And, most important, it puts up walls as opposed to acting as a foundation upon which new relationships can be fostered.

A brand is centered on the purpose of an organization and the values of the humans that make up that organization. A brand ought to be an inspiration and not a prescription. It should be a wellspring from which new trust-building behavior can be created and not a dogmatic set of country club walls. If you are a leader hoping to retain relevance into the future, then spending time in the existential is your most important role.

The bad news is that this kind of language is hard to create. This is why leaders can become frustrated in brand conversations. But the good news is that you have everything you need.

Here are questions to help you to begin a journey toward a brand:
- What is the greatest problem you believe your organization is responding to in the world?
- When you have had an outcome that felt deeply satisfying, what was happening and who was involved?
- What is it that makes you unique in how you carry out your purpose?
- In 50 years, if you were wildly successful, how would the world be changed because of you?
The journey of creating a brand that can be the source of establishing new relationships and an inspiration for creative expression is a long one. It likely will mean you will need to turn to others or outside resources. Beginning with these questions will set you on the course with the right mindset and intention.

Jeremy Nulik ( is evangelist prime at bigwidesky, a human business consultancy, in St. Louis, Mo.

Submitted 2 years 71 days ago
Categories: categoryMarketing Works
Views: 597