By guest author Shawn Parr
[Shawn Parr, CEO of a design and innovation consultancy, offers ideas for companies of all stripes to assess and strengthen their brands for 2011.]
1. BE COURAGEOUS, OFTEN
Take bold steps to stand out from the crowd. Reflect on 2010 and look at what you did well and what you could have done differently. Take courageous steps to help your brand stand out in 2011.
2. REVISIT AND REFINE YOUR PURPOSE
Take the time to look back at your mission and vision and ask if you were living it in 2010. Look for places to bring it to life with your team and explore whether you need to refine it. Remember: the words aren’t set in stone. If they’re not resonating, rewrite and revise!
3. SHUT UP AND LISTEN
There’s a lot to learn if you just take the time to listen. Make sure you ask your team for feedback, ideas and suggestions. Listen to your consumers and pay attention to research. Listen to what they have to say and act on what you’ve heard. Honest, unfiltered feedback is fuel for change.
4. FIND AN ENEMY
An enemy gives you and your team something to push against, something to challenge. An enemy inspires passion! This year, define a clear enemy and rally your team. It could be a competitor, a trend or an element of your internal culture. No matter what it is, create a plan to beat it, share the mission with your team and go forth!
5. STRETCH AND SET SOME BIG GOALS
Set at least one wild and audacious goal for 2011 – something you’ve never tried before. Outline the goal, share it with your team and challenge them to play their part in achieving it. Just don’t forget to celebrate the small victories and successes on the journey.
6. BUILD A PASSIONATE AND ENGAGED TEAM
Your most valuable resource is your people. This year, weed out those who don’t contribute and aren’t engaged. Replace them with active, passionate and energized people who will make a true difference to the rest of your team and your brand.
7. INJECT FUN INTO THE EVERYDAY
One of the best motivators for your team is a great work environment. This year, start doing small things that make your employees happy. A monthly massage for a those who have put in extra hours or a weekly potluck for the team. Small gestures or events can make a big difference. And the benefits won’t just stop with your team – they will show through everything that your brand does. Happy people equals happy brand.
8. PLAN FOR LEARNING
This year, make a commitment and ensure you company is continually learning and is inspired by the word at large. Create a program that allows your team to take classes. Host a “learning lunch” monthly with guest speakers. Injecting new thinking into your organization will energize your team and, ultimately, benefit your brand.
9. MAKE FRIENDS WITH OTHER BRANDS
Partner brands can be your best ally, whether they’re in your space or not. This year, chart a “circle of love,” identifying brands with similar values that you’d like to partner with in 2011. Set one member of your team with a potential relationship and have them explore how to collaborate. You’ll be surprised by the results, even just the initial conversations you’ll have about your own brand.
10. SAY THANK YOU AND SHOW THAT YOU REALLY MEAN IT
And, lastly, do what your mother told you! Thanking people goes a long way to creating valued and appreciated fans – internally and externally. This year, find new ways to show you appreciate your team, your customers and your partners, in ways that truly make a difference in their lives. You’ll be surprised and delighted by the results.