Your Brand Is A Mandate, Not A Mask

What can Botox and depression teach us about building a strong and authentic organizational brand? Quite a lot, it turns out.

As I drove home from a client meeting recently I caught a radio interview with Dr Eric Finzi, a Maryland-based dermatologist, who has written a book about the relationship between Botox and depression. At its heart is the insight that how you look – the face you present to the world – can profoundly affect how you feel and act.

It turns out that using Botox to inhibit the frown of clinically depressed patients leads many to feel happier.

“Look good, feel good” my barber used to say as she removed the protective cape from my shoulders and brushed my collar. It hadn’t struck me how profoundly and eternally true that observation is until I listened to Dr Finzi’s remarks.

The conversation made me reflect on the connection between appearance, behavior and authenticity - and what that means for your organizational brand. Here’s the key question: is your brand a face you put on to fool the world, or is it the essential truth about who you are?  If you believe, as we do, that the latter is the case, then your brand becomes a mandate, not a mask.

A lot of people associate “brand” with appearance, image and cynically calculated communication – and so with superficiality and manipulation. But those things don’t last long – and the client/customer relationships created on that basis soon sour and fade. They are not authentic and so they will not endure.

However, it’s also true that even honest and well-meaning organizations who have taken the trouble to uncover and articulate what they stand for, can find that some of their long-cherished behaviors and processes are actually in conflict with the core of their brand. 

What separates these honest searchers from the superficial cynics is their willingness to act their brand into being.

That means doing the uncomfortable work of aligning their business processes and their peoples’ behavior with the values that the brand stands for – so that the story that the organization tells the world through its brand is true.