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Want an extraordinary brand? Get a unifying idea.

“Our logo is fine, but the language on our website needs some work.”

I hear this more than you’d probably guess.

This could be a legitimate need to brush up the language, bringing it in line with the brand. In my experience, it’s not unusual for the language to get short shrift when an organization goes through the brand development process or a refresh.

But it could be a symptom of a more serious problem. A problem that can lead to confusion and conflicting messages for an organization. A problem that could hamstring the brand for years to come.

There is a simple way to find out.

Great brands have a unifying idea that they return to time and time again to coalesce their efforts. This is a statement of the value you bring to those you hope to serve. In fact, at a functional level, it’s sometimes called your value proposition. It may also be referred to as your unique selling proposition (USP). These are statements that declare what you do that is unique and what it does for those you hope to serve.

Those that want to go further will clarify a statement that declares how the brand will make a difference in a life, a community, or even the world. I call this the Big Audacious Meaning. It is the most powerful unifying idea you can embrace.

Not every brand will clarify a Big Audacious Meaning. Nevertheless, it is still crucial to have some sort of unifying idea. Otherwise, you risk efforts becoming disjointed. Messages conflicting. And prospects tuning out because of the dissonance.

Your unifying idea can help you assess the challenges you have. And give guidance to making adjustments. For example, if I am told the language on the website needs some work, how do I know what the problem is? And how can I be sure that I’m evolving it in a way that will strengthen the brand? I could say that my decades of experience enable me to decide what’s right for the brand. You may have a different opinion. Who would be right? It becomes incredibly subjective and, ultimately, detrimental to the brand.

But if we have an agreed-upon unifying idea, we can ask, “Does this language support this unifying idea we have embraced?” And if not, we can ask, “What will help make that happen?”

I had one scenario where we ended up examining that logo that had initially been characterized as “fine”. Now I don’t like recommending a logo revamp — it can be expensive when you start considering redoing everything that bears the mark. But in this case, it became apparent that the logo simply did not support that one unifying idea. It no longer powerfully represented the organization. As such, it became worth the expense to evolve it.

It’s easy to identify that things seem a bit off with the brand. And it will seem like everyone has a suggestion on how to rectify it. But if you just jump in and start changing things, it can get frustrating (and expensive) as everyone adds their opinion and you find yourself caught in an endless stream of revisions. Take a step back. Clarify that unifying idea. Then use it to help guide you and the brand.

Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail — a brand innovation company, helping organizations find their unique, undeniable and unshakable sense of purpose and create innovative experiences that bring it to life.

Originally published at on October 24, 2019.

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Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail.

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