Unleash Greatness

Uncover Your Competitive Advantage by Living Your Brand

By Rob Hawse

illustration of happy workers with a five star rating compared to unhappy workers with only one star

Brand is everything. From an interaction with a salesperson to a walking tour of your facility and everything in between, these touchpoints—what you do and what you say—affect how your brand is perceived. Even though it sounds simple, there are many manufacturers who miss the mark when it comes to brand. Everyone should be on the same page when it comes to brand expectations. Each employee should act in a unified, collective way that reflects how special your company is within the industry. Anything less than this results in a company failing to “live their brand.”

It’s critical for a company to live its brand.


Companies that live their brand have a distinct competitive advantage over those that don’t because they deliver value and authenticity as they work to outperform competitors. Equally as important, they also have a company culture that defines how the brand sets the company up for success across different areas of business.

As buyers participate in brand experiences each day, they take note of which experiences are good versus those that are bad. Good experiences, like exceptional customer service or helpful correspondence with a salesperson, occur when a company lives its brand. Conversely, companies that do a poor job living their brand mislead, confuse and ultimately lose opportunities to earn and retain customers. And over time, this will negatively affect market share.

Today, market share is earned by companies that live their brand and deliver authentic brand experiences.

group of three male coworkers smiling around an open laptop

What Living Your Brand Looks Like

When a company lives its brand, everyone from top to bottom knows what the company stands for (who, what, how and why) and acts on it every single day. Employees work in a space where leaders use their brand strategy and brand identity to inspire and shape culture. And as a result, everyone in the company is aligned, shares the brand’s values and behaviors and always delivers what the brand promises.

The resulting effect is a brand that looks, sounds and acts the way it is intended to—and doesn’t change from employee to employee.

To successfully live your brand in manufacturing, it’s especially important to hit the mark in these three areas:

  • Ensure your marketing reflects who you are and how you want to be perceived. Manufacturers are skilled and proficient. Do your whitepapers, emails and website reflect this competency? There shouldn’t be a gap between what you do and how your marketing illustrates your work.
  • An office or workspace should emphasize the tenets of your brand. Your core values don’t have to be written on each wall to get a certain message across. But, if your company prioritizes its history of innovation, it’s a good idea to include a timeline of achievements in a lobby or entrance that inspires customers and employees alike.
  • Your brand doesn’t change when you take it on the road. A tradeshow is an opportunity to present your brand to new customers and create expectations that your company is a market leader. Prove that the way you look, sound and act is consistent at home and while you’re away.

While these examples might seem small, little improvements here and there add up to meaningful changes your customers and employees will see and feel.

The Power That Comes From Living Your Brand

Living your brand is an authentic way to share your differentiation in an industry where competitors easily enter the market. What makes you different—and how you share what separates you from the pack—will impact the brand experience your team delivers to prospects and customers. As we like to say, show them what you are made of, and the results will follow.

Here are some of the benefits of living your brand:

  • A culture that attracts and retains high-quality, like-minded employees who understand their roles and purpose at a deep level. What employees do day in and day out directly and indirectly contributes to the brand experience your customers demand.
  • Customers who will evangelize your brand and make it easier to get messages out to your audience.
  • Market share that is earned and maintained by your relentless pursuit of consistency.
  • A small or non-existent gap between how you want to be perceived by your customers and how you are perceived by your customers. The smaller the gap between these two ideas sets your customers up for an authentic brand experience and results in more earned market share for your company.

Living your brand makes it easier to create the long-lasting customer connections that you desire and keeps your company well-positioned to earn them.

- Rob Hawse

a young professional sitting alone in a booth looking at his computer frustrated

What Companies Look Like That Don’t Live Their Brand

They look desperate, confused and inconsistent. They’re hard to connect with because their actions are uninspiring and inauthentic. The biggest difference, though, is a disconnected brand experience. With everyone in the company on different pages, the brand looks, sounds and acts in a reactionary way. The customer’s perception of you is very different than the way you want to be perceived.

Curious if your company’s not living your brand? Here are a few symptoms to look out for:

  • Your mission, vision and values are covered in dust and are only brought out of the file cabinet when you need to prove to someone that you actually have them.
  • When anyone (regardless of their role) is asked for examples of co-workers acting out one of your core values, they not only struggle with examples; they don’t even know the values.
  • There are no brand standards for managing your brand. Or, if you have them, no one really pays attention to them, which results in varying looks and feels in your marketing initiatives.
  • You claim something like “we set the bar in customer service” yet recent surveys or online reviews indicate your service is questionable at best.

If you don’t live your brand, your reputation and market share are two things at risk. If brand standards aren’t lived out and acted upon consistently, or you’re not controlling your own perception through brand experience, a customer’s definition of who you are won’t match how you designed the brand.

group of employees collaborating in a conference room around a table and whiteboard

How to Start Living Your Brand

You must start with a strong brand foundation. But that’s only half of the equation.

You also need to inspire your employees to act out your core values in a consistent way to properly live your brand. And though there are countless ways to inspire, the trick is to keep it creative, simple and consistent. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:

  • Kick off company-wide meetings with an example of an employee acting out one of your core values. Or better yet, inspire others to act by having an employee recognize a co-worker doing so. It’s more contagious when you get the whole team involved.

  • Storytelling is a powerful way to connect your core values to your team. This is particularly effective with generational manufacturers that have a rich history to pull from. Review your history and make the connection to each of your values. Sharing these stories makes it easier for employees to visualize themselves acting in similar ways.

  • When it comes to recruiting, interviewing and hiring, there is no better way to sort candidates for fit than exposure to your brand’s core values. And don’t just list them in a job description. Work what they stand for into the copy of your job postings and let them impact the questions you ask during an interview. It’s important to let candidates know what type of person you are looking for and then let the interview process confirm or deny each choice. Once you land the right hire, start them off on the right foot with an onboarding process inspired by your brand’s core values.

  • Ask your team what retreat, outing, event or all-employee meeting was the most memorable. The answer most will give is the one that was properly planned and themed. Don’t be random when planning time with your employees. Look to your core values to inspire your creative thinking. Not only will you make these times memorable, but you’ll also connect your culture with your values.

group of smiling employees sitting around a conference table with their laptops open

Everyone Must Live the Brand, Starting with Leadership

It’s most important for leadership to get it right first and then inspire everyone else to act. Leading by example will mold and shape the culture.

Regardless of where you are in your company’s hierarchy, knowing how you deliver your brand’s promise creates a sense of belonging. Leadership and employees alike can name your core values, give examples and be consistent in the ways they interact with customers. When you have that, the brand looks, sounds and acts the way it should. It attracts employees and customers who believe the same thing. When this happens, it’s easier to create the long-lasting connections that you desire and keeps your company well-positioned to earn them.

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