Synergy between brand development and organizational development as great potential

Better results when brands and organizations are developed together

A powerful vision and shared values characterize the orientation of both areas. In practice, it is crucial to use the connection and adapt it individually for brands and organizations to ensure long-term success.

A deep understanding of the interactions between brand building and organizational development opens up fascinating insights into the strategic direction of companies. But it’s not that simple. Let’s start with the question: Which comes first, brand building or organizational development?

The perspectives of brand and organizational development

Before we dive into the details, it is important to understand the perspectives of brand and organizational development. While brand development involves building an identity-creating brand and positioning it in the market, organizational development focuses on designing effective structures, processes and value creation within the company.

Put simply, organizational development provides orientation for the inner workings of an organization, while brand development focuses on the outside.

These two disciplines are closely linked, as a strong brand and a healthy organization support and strengthen each other.
But where should we start?

The beginning: brand building or organizational development?

The question of where to start is a chicken-or-egg dilemma for many business owners, directors and managers. There is no clear answer. For some companies, the process begins with brand development, while for others, organizational development marks the first step.

Start-ups usually begin with brand development, often starting with small teams that work together in an agile and interdisciplinary manner and require few processes. In larger organizations, dysfunctionalities often become apparent, resulting in a need for action in organizational development.

However, realignments in market cultivation or repositioning also provide the impetus: marketing is the driving force here. The brand identity is adapted to the new circumstances before the performance of the organization is questioned. This makes it clear that there are no rigid rules, but that each situation must be considered individually.

The importance of vision for brand and organizational development

A powerful vision is a key element for both brand building and organizational development. From an organizational development perspective, the question is: How do we develop a vision that drives the company forward and inspires employees?

The challenge lies in creating a vision that is not only inspiring, but from which a realistic and tangible mission for the entire team can be derived. The rest of the process is about creating values and structures that enable teams to perform at their best.

From a brand building perspective, the vision also serves another purpose. It serves as a guiding star for the long-term direction of the brand and provides a clear guideline for external communication. The vision should be inspiring and create an emotional connection with customers and the community in order to build long-term relationships. (Also worth reading: What is co-creation and why should you think about it?)

The role of values in brand and organizational development

Values play a crucial role in both brand and organizational development. They provide orientation. But how can we ensure that corporate and brand values harmonize with each other?

Brands need to identify the core values that they share with their target group. These can include sustainability, social justice, innovation or community building.

In some cases, corporate and brand values can be identical, creating a strong and authentic brand. An outstanding example of this is Patagonia, whose commitment to sustainability is not just lip service, but is deeply ingrained in the company culture.

Nevertheless, there are situations in which it can make sense to consciously separate corporate and brand values. This can be the case, for example, if the brand’s target group appreciates different values than the company’s employees. An example of a sensible separation of brand and company values can be found in luxury segments: Values such as exclusivity, status and prestige may differ from the values lived within the company itself, such as efficiency and cost awareness in order to remain profitable.

The practice of brand and organizational development

In practice, it is important to recognize and leverage the connection between brand and organizational development. A few examples of brand promises that rely on organizational performance:

  • Customer centricity: this requires not only an adjustment in marketing strategy, but also structural changes within the organization to effectively meet the needs of customers. It requires interdisciplinary teams at every touchpoint, breaking down silos and fostering collaboration.
  • Product innovation: Brands need to innovate with purpose. One example of this is Tesla, led by Elon Musk, which has set itself the goal of accelerating the global transition to sustainable energy. Their electric cars are not just technical gadgets, they are part of a larger mission. Tesla is targeting environmentally conscious consumers by continuously developing groundbreaking products.
  • Social responsibility: Brands cannot exist in isolation, they are part of a larger ecosystem. Ben & Jerry’s, the ice cream maker, is committed to social justice. Their purpose goes beyond delicious flavors; it’s about creating a better world. Their commitment is aimed at customers who want their dessert choices to reflect their values. The brand “SHARE, your social basket!”, known for its “One for One” model to build a socially just consumer goods brand, also creates shared values with the community and thus achieves a high level of involvement. According to the 1+1 principle: “Every bottle of mineral water from the Allgäu region sold gives one person access to a well” is an example of this. Its purpose is aimed at customers who value social impact and want their purchases to make a difference.
  • Social commitment: The Dove brand challenges conventional beauty standards by highlighting different body types. Their goal is to redefine beauty and their messaging reflected this. By using customer-centric language, it promotes a sense of belonging and empowerment. LUSH is going one step further: The brand, which stands for well-being among other things, is withdrawing from social media at the end of 2021 and justifies this step as follows (excerpt, source: “We prefer platforms that do not use algorithms to confront users with negative content, fake news or extreme views in order to increase engagement, clicks and shares. As with any other addictive pastime, we want platforms to design their product in a way that minimizes the risk of overuse and encourages healthy usage behaviors.”

Summary: The connection between brand and organizational development

Overall, it is clear that brand and organizational development are closely linked and influence each other. Successful brand management requires a strong and healthy organization, while effective organizational development benefits from a clear brand identity.

There is no clear-cut answer as to where to start, whether with brand building or organizational development. Every organization, every brand is unique. Big, small? Traditional, stable or tech and agile? B2B or consumer? All of these elements require separate consideration and classification in the overall context.

It is important to consider both areas in their interaction and to develop them together to ensure long-term success.

Angelika Ballosch ist Marketing-, und systemische Organisationsberaterin. Ihre Expertise erstreckt sich von der Entwicklung strategischer Marketing- und Kampagnenkonzepte bis hin zum kollaborativen Aufbau von Organisationsstrukturen, dem Abbau von Silos, der Gestaltung eines optimalen Funnels, Veränderungsinitiativen und der Umsetzung von Marketingmaßnahmen. Mit einer systemtheoretischen Herangehensweise werden Werte und Strukturen in der Kultur identifiziert und Symptome von echten Problemen unterschieden, um die Herausforderungen in der Wertschöpfung anzugehen.”

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