My oldest son is about to become a teenager and as each day passes, I’m reminded that he is just starting his journey to find himself, find his identity and find who he wants to be apart from us, his parents.
The most powerful discoveries I’ve found in my life are the ones which help deepen my understanding of who I am at the core. Successes I’ve had, challenges I’ve faced while in school, playing sports, being a parent and pursing my career shape a more complete understanding of who I am and what I value.
The phrase from Greek philosophy of “Know Thyself” is about knowing your place in the world in relation to the Gods. So, while I could point to this phrase to tell my son that he should know his place, it’s not why I pointed it out to him while watching The Matrix last weekend.
Confidence, change, and courage come from knowing yourself, knowing your values and knowing your purpose.
Throughout my career in Brand strategy, including a long stay behind the curtain at Johnson & Johnson, I’ve participated in many different exercises to personify Brands. From creating archetypes to the question of “if you met Lubriderm at a party, what would that person be like and what would they wear?”
Now, while I’m not planning to dress up as Lubriderm this Halloween, it is still worthwhile to discover who your Brand is in consumers’ eyes. Developing the P.R.I.C.E. of Courage process, we’ve discovered the importance of prioritizing the values for Brands that win in the marketplace. It’s not a quick exercise and it’s not a superficial pursuit. The deeper the digging, the truer the conversations and the richer the debate that produce meaningful understanding of the Brand.
Companies that succeed understand who they are at the core – Patagonia, Walmart, Disney, Southwest Airlines, Chick-fil-A, Doritos – each resonates with specific consumers who love to be connected to these Brands. They are not just Brands that most of us could personify, but they are Brands who know deeply what they value. Then they share those values with the world – on the outside through marketing or annual reports and on the inside with staff via employee branding. Many of the Courage Brands I rattled above take it a step beyond communications by baking their values into their products and consumer experiences.
Courage, change, and confidence for Brands (and their cultures) comes from knowing “thyself”. To know thyself is to know thy Brand, core values, and purpose.
Not everyone loves all those Brands, just like not everyone is going to love who my kids become.
But as they embrace and accept who they are, others will respect them and those that do love them will celebrate them for staying true to who they are.