Your Brand Is A Living Thing

It lives, grows, thrives or dies in an environment. While it has to be adaptive, it can’t be infinitely malleable. Its DNA is a set of core principles that define its purpose -- its role in the environment. So, while it’s tempting to shape shift in response to the latest social influences and cultural trends, it’s better to find out how this brand works best in this environment, and evolve it into something that plays its role better than it ever did.

A brand exists to serve a purpose in an environment

It should be fairly simple to state your brand’s purpose. Just focus on the need you’re here to fill. High Point Market, for example, exists to connect sellers and buyers.

Throughout the history of the furniture industry, manufacturers sold to retailers. They sold in bulk, filling retailer warehouses with truckloads of product. For more than 100 years, more and more of those sales were closed at the High Point Market. By the early 21st Century, High Point was a fertile selling environment of almost 2,000 showrooms, spread over 180 buildings, attracting more than 75,000 people from more than 100 countries.

What happens when there is an environmental catastrophe?

And then came the crash of 2008. The U.S. housing market collapsed in a flash. Consumer demand for new furniture fell through the floor. In 18 short months, from October 2008 to April 2010, 5,000 furniture retailers were wiped out. Survivors surveyed this wasteland in a desperate search for new customers. Enter the designer. Long ignored, because they had no warehouses to fill, designers became viable customers largely by virtue of being the only new opportunity. Suddenly, figuring out how to work with designers became exceptionally important.

You adapt

Manufacturers found ways to sell and ship less than a truckload of furniture at a time. The industry became more style and fashion focused. The High Point Market Authority formed partnerships with leading influencers in the design community, to let designers everywhere know that the world had changed. Furniture manufacturers were now looking to form new relationships. High Point was the place to see the latest styles, trends, and innovations -- and to meet the manufacturers who value your business.

Furniture is a Fashion Statement

You thrive

While 5,000 storefronts crumbled around us, High Point Market gained enough designers to not just maintain attendance at pre-crash levels, but to grow to new heights. Now the hot spot for the latest styles, High Point Market became known as fashion week for home furnishings. Exhibitors increased their revenues. More showrooms opened. More buyers attended, from more countries. Today, High Point is the key event for a growing global industry.

When your audience shrinks, find a new audience

Someday, there will be another radical shift. No brand can control its environment.

But if you know why your brand is here -- what role it must play -- it can adapt and thrive through unexpected cycles of change, destruction, and regrowth.

Your DNA defines your purpose

In biology, DNA is the foundation for each individual. It defines their looks, abilities, actions, and, well, everything. A brand’s purpose is its DNA. It is the set of values, intentions, visions, and reasons for being that rest at the very core of the brand's identity. It defines how the brand looks and acts, why it does what it does, and, well, everything.

The Bank of Oak Ridge was founded on the belief that community banking is better banking. It is better because a small, local bank that is a true part of the community can offer a higher level of service to the self-employed professionals and small businesses that are its primary customers. This is its DNA.

The big and powerful feed on the small and weak

Just five years ago, the Triad area of North Carolina was home to a number of community banks, but these other institutions didn’t share the strong founding principles of the Bank of Oak Ridge. They had a different DNA. They were built to create a customer base that could be sold via merger to regional or national banks. Over time, larger corporations gobbled up every other community bank in the area.

Certainly there was financial incentive for management at Bank of Oak Ridge to do the same, to shape shift with the changing culture, build their customer base, and then offer it to the highest bidder. After all, customers were getting used to being treated like a commodity, and the money was good. To do so, however, is simply not in the DNA of the bank that was founded on the belief that community banking is better banking.

The small and strong get stronger

So, when the time came for a brand refresh, Bank of Oak Ridge reaffirmed its foundational purpose. It didn’t just re-stake its claim to community banking in the Triad; it celebrated this position emphasizing the value of a local bank, of personal service, of handcrafted solutions and of its commitment to the community. True to its DNA, it chose to epitomize the value of community banking. It chose to be spectacularly local.

Small and strong is spectacular

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