My grandmother died recently and it’s been a very difficult time but out of the dark comes light and looking at the legacy she left behind her has given me both solace and pleasure. I have an amazing family and if I was called upon to describe them, I’d use the words loving, protective, generous and strong; all the things that she was too. These are values you’d perhaps expect to see but it got me thinking about brands and the legacies they leave and it made me question my own business and what it represents. I asked myself this – do I have a business that stands for positive change and what do I want it to achieve in the future?
I pushed myself to go back to the drawing board and looked at the identity concepts that were developed when I first launched. At the time I wanted something that was fresh, friendly, memorable and vibrant but could also be interpreted as professional, reputable and confident. It’s obvious to me now that at that point I was thinking more about look and personality rather than legacy, but perhaps this is a normal starting point unless you’re a community interest company, which only ever sets out to achieve social rather than personal gain.
I’m now in a different place and while I work hard to maintain a strong identity, product and perception for Sarah Hall Consulting, I know as the business matures, it needs to achieve different things and the brand must evolve accordingly. I’ve proven I can be my own boss and deliver for clients but it is interesting to see the subtle change in the contracts and projects I am taking on – more of these than ever relate to organisations engaging with stakeholders to drive change and make things better within their communities. B-Skill, Shared Interest, Wallsend RFC and TryLife are just a few recent examples of this.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with organisations being purely commercially driven and I love business-to-business PR, a division of the consultancy I will never walk away from. I love the cut and thrust of the deal world and it’s critical to Britain’s economic success to have revenue generated by companies employing staff and investing in others, difficult enough in the current trading environment. These businesses also can (and do) make efforts to make the world a better place through mentoring programmes and charity work, among other things.
An excellent example of the success that comes from developing a brand legacy is Coca-Cola, our favourite soft drink. According to www.superbrand.co.uk, the MyCoke portfolio is worth a staggering £1.135billion in the UK alone. Coca-Cola understands that to enjoy sustainable growth, it has to take its social responsibility seriously and it certainly delivers on this – if you look at its website it is as much about health, the environment and sport as it is about the product. This is without doubt one of the reasons that since 1886, Coca-Cola has connected with more people in more places than any other product and is now the most universally recognized brand. What can you say other than – wow!
For me, the last few weeks have been sad but enlightening – as I’ve learnt more about my grandmother, I have learnt more about myself. I have thought long and hard about what I want my business to have achieved when I finally move aside for someone else to take over and now have a new vision for the future. Taking the long view brings an interesting perspective – why not give it a go and see how it could positively affect your business objectives and strategy.