There is nothing like some summer holidays to catch on reading the books one has accumulated. Grow, by Jim Stengel, is one such book. It is a book based on 10 years of research into more than 50,000 companies to identify the things that the fastest growing companies have in common. Stengel found the common denominator to the 50 brands that rose to the top was great clarity around their respective brand ideals.
I am not particularly concerned with how rigorous or not Stengel’s research was, or the fact that I found some of the content of his book a little ho hum, but I did like his interpretation that the ideals that drive these brands could be grouped into one of just five fields of what he calls “fundamental human values” that improve people’s lives by:
Eliciting Joy: Activating experiences of happiness, wonder and limitless possibility.
Enabling Connection: Enhancing the ability to connect with one another and the world in meaningful ways.
Inspiring Exploration: Helping people explore new horizons and new experiences.
Evoking Pride: Giving people increased confidence, strength, security and vitality.
Impacting Society: Facilitating people’s desire to live, work, and play in more effective, efficient, harmonious and sustainable ways.
What I find appealing about the five fields above is that they provide a very useful framework for steering internal conversations about the aspirations of brands. They provide a fixed point for exploring the extent to which a brand wishes to position its offering around one or more of the dimensions framed by each of these themes.
However, it is important to recognise that the five themes are not necessarily exhaustive and by no means mutually exclusive. For example one would expect to evoke a sense of pride if a brand is able to deliver on ‘inspiring exploration’ in a meaningful manner.
Finally, what I like about Stengel’s approach is his focus on the concept of brand ideals, as it has the potential to reflect a more noble aspiration for a brand.
What are some other books that have made you rethink your view of or approach to branding?