Embrace your milestone moments

This is an updated version of a post from the past, on a different version of Brandhappens.com. I think it still has a message worth repeating…

Brand ManagementThis coming May 20th will be the 15th anniversary of my heart attack. Yes, despite people telling me that I was too young at 35 to have a heart attack, I indeed did have a heart attack. The calming nurse at the Iowa Heart Center told me so.

And it says so on the calendar my wife keeps in the upstairs bathroom. It’s a milestone in my family. Like any milestone, it marked time. For me, it’s the date we starting forking over a lot of cash to the pharmaceutical companies, started eating better, started listening for the latest heart therapies that come down the pike. It’s the date we started taking seriously the amount of life insurance I had. And the date I thought about dying.

Organizations have milestones, too. Some go by without much notice, while others mark significant change. It’s those big ones that organizations need to pay attention to when understanding their brands.

  • Years ago, a small manufacturing company I worked with, discovered that it started out as a distributor, deciding only to manufacture a product when nobody on the market made one that met their high standards. That milestone helped shape the company’s unmatched commitment to quality that still set it apart from competitors who had moved onto products with more bells and whistles, and lower dependability. The company offered true craftsmanship and stood by their products with twice the industry standard warranty.
  • Another former client,a software developer, told his employees reason he quit working in a large, corporate IT department: he hated “programming to the big book,” and wanted, instead, to write software that solved real business problems. It was a milestone moment in his life and the life of his company.
  • Another manufacturing client recounted how he’d survived the departure of his two co-founding partners and a successful defense in a lawsuit, all over a period of about two years. When he saw it on paper, he became very thankful and was much better able to begin working on the real issues in his company rather than those already conquered.

Brand happens every day, but we need to mark the milestones that make us who we are. That’s why I address milestones early in a brand discovery process. Together with my client, we list dates and as much detail as possible, discussing what they mean and folding them into the brand story. Understanding milestones is a critical step to understand where you’re going.

So, what are the milestones in your organization? Have they marked change? Have they marked setbacks or achievements? Does everybody in your organization know about the big ones?

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