Colin Lange

Winning Brand Alignment

To watch an Olympic Speed Skating team event is a study in alignment.

Skate blades click on the ice as the team members work together in the most unnatural stance — backs hunched over, arms swaying, legs pushing laterally — all in seemingly perfect unison and all pushing toward gold.

They all work together or they all fail. Their time is based on the last skater to cross the finish line.

Their success depends on three forces working in sync:

The internal: This event mixes endurance skaters and sprinters — each bringing a body of fitness and talent to the rink.

The external: The skaters don suits, some made from as many as five different materials and tested in wind tunnels, to maximize their performance. (If the suits don’t seem to matter, ask Under Armour.)

The leadership: The lead skater works the hardest, allowing others to draft behind. If the leader falters, the whole effort can be tripped at 60 miles per hour.

Each team member has a different role though all have the same goal.

At its core, a brand communicates a purpose or a vision. It only works when everyone’s aligned around one purpose. Leadership agrees on the purpose of the company and the vision for the future. Employees understand that vision, rally around it and work to fulfill it. Customers feel like the product they’re getting fulfills the company’s promise, and they feel passionate about that promise.

However, most organizations suffer from misalignment and don’t think to address the issue before doing brand work. The result: a brand that resonates with some and not others; a brand that confuses rather than clarifies; a brand that fragments rather than unifies.

Without alignment, you are no longer a team. You’re a set of individuals pulling your brand apart.

To get back into that perfect alignment of team members pushing each other forward, you need to uncover misalignments and discover what’s truly important to people. Craft a strategy to set a direction for your brand. Only then, can your creative team develop a brand that inspires action at every level.

And that’s winning.