Leveling-up authentically: get a brand from here to there

Leveling-up authentically: get a brand from here to there

It’s the beginning of Autumn as I write this, Summer has left the building, and the walks I take by the river near my home explode with colour. One of the ways I track the cycle of the seasons is by watching the geese.

Just five months ago, I was watching the baby geese grow up. In a matter of weeks, they transformed from yellow puffballs to awkward brown teens with patchy fluff and deformed-looking “arms” as they waited for their feathers to come in. Now, they’re eating constantly and taking practice flights, training their wings to lift their fat bodies off the ground and power them through an epic 5,000-km flight.

It seems much harder for humans to up-level. We have longer life spans and shorter wing spans; we take our time.

Humans have the luxury of getting stuck and the habit of doing so—it shows in our companies’ brands all the time.

I hear company founders say things like this quite frequently:

  • “Our customers like us as we are, and we don’t want to lose them.”
  • “Our customers don’t realize we do these other things.”
  • “We don’t want to oversell ourselves—we haven’t done much of this kind of work yet.”

No goose has ever thought, “No one realizes I’ll fly one day so I won’t bother”, or, “I’m afraid to use these wings because it means I’ll have to change locations.”

Staying the same isn’t an option in nature. A great failing of humans, and many of our brands, is resistance to change. An even greater failing is a lack of vision about where a brand can grow.

Sometimes, the resistance is mistrust of the branding process itself. Founders and owners are often concerned that a serious branding activity is somehow “fake”. Yes, it would be dishonest to paint a Canada Goose white and claim it has grown into a swan, but every brand should have an expectation of moving through a life-cycle of growth, adaptation, and change.

Yes, it is discouraging to see your competitors misrepresent their size or capabilities, and win business doing it—but that’s not a good reason to stall your own brand’s progress.

Yes, it can be scary to up-level when you know your clients love you as you are—but there’s no rule that a brand can’t be both grown-up and accessible.

Every brand deserves the opportunity to live up to its potential and stretch its wings.

Getting from “here” to “there” does not require a dishonest leap of faith; it needs preparation and a series of steps. Some of those steps may venture through “awkward” because leveling-up can be uncomfortable. Don’t mistake that discomfort for dishonesty.

The trick is in creating alignment between the starting point, the goal, and the folks who are involved in that journey (leaders, customers, stakeholders). When everyone is aligned to the journey, the brand can soar.

Please talk to us about charting the course for your brand.