Is your business brand led, or person led?

Look at any picture of an army marching, and you’ll see the presence of flags indicating the special colours of the division or unit. The army is led by a general, but guided by a flag, held up high in the air. The general provides strategic direction, but the flag becomes the rallying point for the troops. This flag represents more than just a practical indication of enemy vs. friend. It represents what that army stands for. Its beliefs. The American flag represents American values and an American dream.

No army goes into battle only with a general. They go into battle with a flag. This flag means something. It brands the army.

So why then is it that in the hard core world of war, armies rely on more than their generals to guide them, but many small businesses rely only on a single person? Why do so many small companies not invest in their brand?

A brand is more than a pretty logo. A brand carries meaning. Unique meaning that can rally the troops – your employees.

An army that is led purely by the vision of a single general goes lame as soon as the general steps down or is killed in battle or looses their strength. No army can purely be person led. The army that is driven by a larger vision and purpose becomes stronger than any single individual. The initial dream can be laid down by an individual, the founder of the company or an inspired CEO, but ultimately this larger cause, purpose, meaning – must be transferred onto a brand to have true longevity.

In my own work I often encounter small businesses that struggle to grow beyond a certain point. They have hit a point of stagnation which is often the result of an owner that has never invested in building a separate company brand. Business growth stagnates, because the company is person led, not brand led.

“The company is build on a person, not a purpose that has been given a life of its own through a brand”

Here is my advise to owners, founders and executives of small and medium sized businesses: If you are happy to have a business that stays around for as long as you can hang on and remain battle fit, then don’t worry about that flag your troops carry. But if you want a legacy that survives beyond your life and a business that continues to earn you a living even into your retirement, then build that company brand and raise a flag of meaning.