Branding & Company DNA

Company cultures are organisms that reflect their leaders, technology, environments and strengths.

Companies are like people. They have their own DNA that is reflected in their culture just like your culture is reflected in you.

Steve Jobs, as the creator of Apple, developed products to improve people’s lives. His cultural DNA created products that were well designed, the epitome of cool in appearance and easy to use.

Marketing the company DNA effectively to change consumer behavior is the challenge for every CEO. That requires developing a unique value proposition that appeals to both the rational and emotional sides of the mind of the customer. Your unique value proposition has to capture who you are as a company and why you matter to your customers in a compelling way.

This is the essence of branding strategy – the expression of your company culture and products with the sole purpose of igniting an emotional reaction with consumers. Every brand, like every person, creates an emotional reaction.

Malcolm Gladwell, in his popular tome’ “Blink”, explained that every time you see anything you consciously or unconsciously form a mental image that is either, positive, negative or neutral.

Obviously, for a large swath of the global population the Apple logo generates a positive image. The goal of any successful marketing strategy is to have the customer say “I love it.” I love my Apple smart device whichever it may be.

Many CEOs fail to ask the two most important questions about their company:

  • Who are we?
  • Why do we matter?

You cannot be all things to all consumers. You have to determine which customer types have the greatest propensity to buy and use the products developed by your core technology. What is it about what you have to offer? Is it the way that you offer that is your basic competitive advantage? What sets you apart from your competitors?

Your “unique value proposition”

Your brand has to appeal to a specific set of customer types that have a unique need or preference.

Elon Musk, the creator of the sleek line of Tesla automobiles, has done this. Does everyone want a Tesla? Can everyone can afford the initial models? Obviously not, but those who have purchased them have helped him create a demand for less expensive but still technologically unique and elegantly designed models.

So much so that over 500,000 people worldwide put a $1,000 deposit to buy the next generation of smaller less expensive Tesla’s. All these people did this 18 months before the first new model was even made.

Here are a few things to think about as you contemplate who your company is and why your brand matters:

  • What is the single most palpable quality that makes your brand stand out from your competition?
  • What is the key benefit your brand offers to your most important customers and why do you remain relevant to them?
  • What is your unique value proposition? What is the single most important word or phrase that best captures the essence of what your brand stands for?
  • Why do your customers say “they love your brand?”

Given all of this, how are you going to continue to grow the sales and profitability of your company DNA?

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Robert Donnelly

Robert M. Donnelly is an author, educator and brand builder for businesses and individuals. His consultancy business is called His corporate life was spent in executive positions with IBM, Pfizer and EXXON and then as the CEO for several U.S. subsidiaries of foreign multinational firms. Professor Donnelly is on the faculty of Saint Peters University as well as Rushmore University, a global online university. His latest book is Personal Brand Planning for Life, available on Amazon. He also functions as an interim executive. You can contact him at or visit his website at

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