Church Communications resources and tips from Justin Dean

Building a Brand that Rallies the Troops

The best thing since sliced bread.

Did you know that sliced bread didn?t become popular until years after it was first invented? The reason is because the inventor of the bread slicer,?Otto Frederick Rohwedder, focused on the technology of slicing bread rather than spreading the idea of pre-sliced bread. It wasn?t until Rohwedder found a partner (Wonder Bread) to help sell the idea of the convenience of sliced bread that his new idea would become the ?best thing?.

Your brand is the idea of your organization. It?s what people think of when they think about you. If people aren?t willing to spread the idea of you, it?s unlikely you will be successful in whatever your organization?s mission is.[quote]Your brand is the idea of your organization.[/quote]

Of course, every organization wants to be spreadable. But how do you get people to do that??How can you build a brand that people get behind and support? Are there things a church, non-profit, or business?can do to become a brand people are proud to display in sticker form?on their car? Is there a way your idea can?spread like the flu? Or do brands like Apple, Starbucks, and Chick-Fil-A?just get lucky in their contagiousness?in people?s minds?

What makes people want to share your brand?

While there is definitely a luck-of-timing aspect, there are also a few tactics?that can?help you rally?the troops:

1. Be remarkable.

As Seth Godin reminds us, being remarkable?worthy of making a remark about?is what makes people want to spread your brand. If you drive down the road and see cows in a field, you just keep driving. You?ve seen cows before. They are boring and invisible. However if you see a purple cow, you?re probably going to stop and talk about it. Of course, if you begin to see purple cows everywhere, they become boring and invisible again.

Remarkable-ness comes in a variety of forms. Excellence, for example, can make your brand a purple cow. The key is to find out what makes your organization different, what makes it?visible, and what makes it?something people are looking for.

Be forewarned though: remarkability often resides at the risky fringes. When Apple created the iPhone (remarkable) it was very risky. Spreading the idea of pre-sliced bread was very risky.

2. Be human.

Often, being remarkable is as simple as being human. It?s hard for large organizations to have that personal touch,?so if you are small, take advantage of size. For your organization to be human, you have to find your voice. What is that one thing you can say that nobody else in your community can say? How can you say that one thing in a way that nobody else is saying it? How can you be relatable? How can you create a connection with the people who will hear your organization?[quote]It?s hard for large organizations to have that personal touch,?so if you are small, take advantage of size.[/quote]

These are all important questions to ask when trying to be human in a way that creates loyalty and gets people excited about your brand (and loyalty matters above all else?including awareness?when you are trying to convince people to buy your sliced bread).

3. Leverage?the tribe.

Fast Company?points out that?we live our lives in networks. Getting people to become brand ambassadors on your behalf is about more than the quality of your company.?It?s not even about the individuals?that make up your target audience.?Nicholas?Christakis (an American sociologist specializing in social networks) says, ?If you’re trying to get people to work better,?it’s?not enough to think about individuals, you?ve got to think about how the?group of individuals is connected or organized.? Who are your followers??friends, relatives,?influencers, etc? What is the nature of these relationships? How do they transmit information to one another?

The most successful rallying of troops is going to be amongst tightly knit platoons with similar modes of communication who are already looking for a solution that your brand provides. Instead of trying to reach disconnected individuals, think about how to connect with tribes.

4. Provide tools and create triggers.

Nobody cares about your organization (except you). It?s hard to accept, but it?s true. What people do care about is themselves. They like to have their problems solved. They like to be entertained. And, they like to be moved emotionally. They want to be involved in a great unfolding story. If you can create triggers that address these needs people subconsciously feel and couple it with sharable assets (social media images, samples of your product offering, etc.)?and some skillful storytelling, you will see success in virally spreading your message.?In order to have people talk about you, resist the urge to hype your products and?services. Instead, create something remarkable to fill a need. Help people be ?sneezers? for your organization.[quote]Create something remarkable to fill a need.[/quote]

5. Leverage the power of the ask.

Sometimes, all you have to do is ask people to help you spread the word. This is especially true for churches and non-profits. If you have a remarkable product and your organization treats people in a way that makes them feel special, along with providing the proper tools that help them easily connect to their network, sometimes a simple ?ask? is all it takes. Since the beginning of Twitter, for example, tweets with an ask??pls RT??have had a much higher likelihood of getting shared than those without.

6. Be consistent.

A brand that is consistent builds trust with its customers. Trust creates confidence that when someone puts their own personal reputation on the line, he or she will not be embarrassed. You don?t always have to do the same thing, but you do need to do things in a way that creates a safe environment for people to share about you.[quote]A brand that is consistent builds trust with its customers.[/quote]

7. Build it into the organization?s DNA.

For this idea of creating the type of fans that are willing to decorate their cars for you, being a ?share-worthy? organization needs to be at the basic building blocks of everything you do.?If you build (or re-build) your organization with the idea of equipping your fans at the?DNA level, it is much more likely that people will become sneezers for you.

8. Start from the top.

Ultimately, people will only rally themselves as much as the main leader (or top-level leaders) of your organization place value on it. Do you think Steve Jobs was invested in making Apple products something that generated a cult following? Walt Disney wanted to make sure every employee (or cast member, as Disney calls them) knew how to treat customers and that every customer left a theme park with the strong desire?to tell everyone about their Disney experience. Truett Cathy built remarkable customer service that people want to talk about into Chick-fil-a?s DNA. It started at the top.

We all want our organization, mission, or idea to be the best thing since sliced bread. We can accomplish that goal by leveraging our remarkable product in a way that feels personable. It is possible to build the culture of the organization in such a way that, at the root level, allows people to naturally share about it with their tribe. When we are intentional about building a band that rallies the troops, the people will do the work of spreading the word for us?and more effectively than we could do it with our meager marketing budgets.

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