brand vision: How to be smart in a world of dumb leaders

How to Build a Brand Strategy—Brand Vision: Creating Leadership, Community and Culture (Part- 4)

Congratulations!  You have made business cards for yourself that say something fancy like CEO, President, or Founder.

Ok.. I can dig your aspirations, but don’t assume that because you have leader in your title you deserve respect. A leader has a vision planned for the future and a map of how they will achieve it.

Leadership is not a right. Leadership cannot be bought. Leadership must be earned


Unleash Your Inner Caveman 

Imagine we are all back in the Stone Age fighting saber-toothed tigers.  The biggest and most bad @?& caveman would be our leader.  It would be his obligation to lead us against the outside threat of a saber-tooth.  In return for his valor as a leader, we would give him the best cut of meat—and respect.  If he failed to do his duty we would lose to the tiger.


Fast forward to present day, the ability to lead is still an earned privilege.


In 2009 Japan Airlines hit hard times and had to lay off a bunch of workers. The CEO of the company Haruka Nishimatsu did exactly what a leader should do.


Haruka Nishimatsu:

  • Slashed his own pay to less than that of a pilot
  • Cut “every single one” of his executive perks
  • Ate at the same cafeteria as his staff.
  • Worked in a large open office area with his staff instead of a corner office
  • Took the local bus to work every day

Most importantly, he understood a key concept. Businesses that pursue money first, fail. Simply put by one of my favorite comic book characters Uncle Ben from Spider-Man,

Remember, With great power comes great responsibility.


You have the responsibility of caring for your employees and your business. So you are a leader—what are you pursuing?


What is your Vision and Mission?

… actually scratch that for a second.


Let’s Clarify the Difference Between a Mission and Vision.

A Vision is something you can see in the future in your mind’s eye.


Think of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech “I have a dream that one day little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”


Dr. Martin Luther King possessed a vision of what the future would look like.


A vision is designed to inspire people to take action.  It speaks to us emotionally, and makes us believe in a better tomorrow.


Mission is how you will achieve this vision.

Think of Star Trek:

“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”


A vision is like a compass, while a mission is the rudder on a ship.


A mission will be the driving force behind how your organization will operate.  What are the measurable goals?

For Star Trek it would be something like this

  • Explore new worlds (check)
  • Find new life (check)
  • Find new civilizations (check)

Create a Vision and a Mission Statement

Set your sights on a future that is better than what it currently is.  Paint that picture and tell us how we are going to achieve this Leave out all technical jargon and just imagine. Think about 3 years from now, what is your life look like?  Where do you see yourself?

I will wait….

Now that you have your vision and mission statements, what values do you hold most true to yourself?  Which of these values do you reflect in your organization?  These will the basis of your Core Values.  Your core values are a map through uncharted waters.  They give you a guiding light on the tough decisions many leaders will need to make.

They are like the prime directive of Star Trek. Only, instead of preventing Starfleet personnel from interfering with the internal development of alien civilizations, they allow you to definitively answer tough questions such as should we hire or fire this employee, or client!


They guide employees on how to act in situations, and determine what is appropriate for you business.

But most importantly…

Core Values build culture.


Why is culture so important?


Tony Hsieh, the CEO of online clothing retailer Zappos said, “At Zappos, our belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff — like great customer service, or building a great long-term brand, or passionate employees and customers — will happen naturally on its own.” I highly recommend checking out the full article here.


Culture is Confidence

It starts with an internal manifestation, a swagger if you will. This swagger attracts attention that you can utilize.  If your swagger or culture is fake, your organization will reflect this and everyone will know.


Companies that focus on culture first attract the top talent.


Excerpt from Forbes: A recent study showed 45% of Millennials will choose workplace flexibility over pay. 72% of students, as opposed to 53% of workers, consider having “a job where I can make an impact” to be very important or essential to their happiness.  71% of millennials want their co-workers to be their “second family.”


Not surprising 60% of Millennials left their company in less than three years… the primary indicator of whether Millennials stay at a company is if there is a “good cultural fit.”


You are creating a culture whether you know it or not.


Companies that focus on employees vs. the bottom line consistently win market share.  Starbucks, Zappos and Mindvalley all focus on employees first. Your employees are the driving force behind productivity, customer service, and innovation.


Invest in your employees and they will invest in you.


Here are four easy ways to start building your company culture:

#1   Focus on creating a balanced work environment

  • Grab an unused conference room and turn it into a nap room

#2   Create Company Trips and Bonding Experiences

  • Take a company Outing to the Park

#3   Develop Team Building Activities for your Employees

  • Go to a local ropes course
  • Create an obstacle course and blindfold one participant while the other leads

#4   Ask Your Employees What Would Make them Happier at Work?

  • The possibilities are endless and the effect is amazing.

Leadership, you decide the culture and vision of your organization.

 What will you do to create a better future for tomorrow? Let us know in the comments!