Glancing Back While Marching Forward
Lessons from 11 Years of Labor and Love
Recently, Common Giant turned 11 years old.
I have ruminated on what this anniversary means to me in an effort to write something more meaningful than the obligatory but well-meaning "I'm thrilled and grateful" type of post that peppers LinkedIn. Owning a business can feel like being on a roller coaster some days and a hamster wheel on others. But the most solid decision we have made in my time with the company was investing in our own rebrand, which we did within the last year.
Many people hear "branding" and "culture" and they think it's fluffy stuff. That branding equates to a logo and a tagline and culture can be cultivated with an annual cookout and periodic merch. I see branding and culture as daily practices that are inextricably linked. Venturing into building an authentic brand requires a good long look under the hood. We took an introspective look into who we are as a business. We examined and rewrote our core values. We began to shape our operations and processes around them. We delved into our strengths and weaknesses, beliefs, and purpose. What emanated from the work we did shapes everything we currently practice.
Practice, Practice, Practice
I often throw around the word practice: to my team, my kids, and primarily to myself. Establishing values is a goal marked by time. Values exist on the horizon, and you keep them through daily practice. Some days will be better than others.
As a kid, I played tennis. One coach would say that perfect practice makes perfect. That's fine advice, except that nobody's perfect. I had a few coaches, and most of them would only comment on my mistakes. It wasn't until I was in my mid-20s playing for fun that I found a coach who reinforced the positive aspects of my play and removed the judgment from the areas where I could improve. After accumulating so much emotional baggage with the sport, I enjoyed playing tennis again. And it was the best I had ever played.
In Andre Agassi's words, "Tennis teaches you there's no such thing as perfect. You want to be perfect, you hope to be perfect, then you're out there and you're far less than perfect. And you realize, I don't have to be perfect today, I just have to be better than one person. It's true."
We can apply this thinking to who we were yesterday in lieu of an opponent across the net, and it works.
Looking Inward to Move Upward
Often when it comes to branding, what you put into it is what you will get out of it. If you view brand work as changing your logo, your logo will change and that's about it. If you view it as a company-wide transformation to take you to the next level and you put the work in, that transformation will begin to take shape.
Common Giant's job is to reflect your values. It's up to you to practice them. This can be excruciating for leaders because not only do they have to embody these values, but they need to find ways to weave them throughout company operations. The process should be exciting and challenging at the same time.
For Common Giant, it was liberating.
Completing the Puzzle
So why do I say rebranding Common Giant was a solid decision? Because now our messaging rolls off of us onto screen and paper instinctively. Now that we're on the other side of the mountain, we see the value of that work clearly on the horizon. We collectively think and speak on behalf of Common Giant with confidence in who we are, what we do, and how we're different.
At the prices we charge for branding, would it have been an easy decision to rebrand if we had to pay for it? Nope. I understand and respect this. It can be a significant financial investment, the ROI is long-term, and like most other things you experience as a business owner, nothing is guaranteed. The decision to rebrand should hurt a little because it's important. Someone once told me, "Not everything expensive is nice, but everything nice is expensive." In my experience, that applies in branding.
So ask yourself: what would you give to have all of those pieces fall into place?