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Introducing Alignment + Action

by Darren Schwindaman | Principal / Designer

Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

We help solve many different brand and marketing challenges at Creative Distillery, but there are some threads that weave throughout all of our work. One concept in particular comes up in almost every client meeting. It’s fundamental enough to be meaningful to businesses at any stage of development, but also broad enough to work on continuously.

‘The Best You That You Can Be’

If I’m being honest, the way I hear this concept in my head is “the best you that you can be.” It conjures up images of self-help seminars and my face on a book (which, admittedly, I wouldn’t hate.) For a branding firm working in 2018, we need to be a little more sophisticated. However, this simple concept does center my thoughts for clients during meetings.

Why be the best you that you can be? In my experience, it’s the only way that you’ll be able to follow through with the actions it takes to bring your vision into reality. Chasing what success looks like for other organizations will only work for so long, and you likely won’t have the capacity or the drive to gain momentum.

Alignment

Our first job is to tease out the core of what you as an organization truly want, even if you haven’t previously articulated it to yourself or your customers. If there are internal forces that are pulling you in different directions, nothing we do on the marketing side will ultimately work because it won’t read as authentic to your audience. No matter the industry, today’s marketing currency is authenticity. Audiences demand it, and there is no substitute.

One of the things I find time and again is that organizations have values and challenges similar to those of individual people. If you’re familiar with personal development, the following ways to start thinking about alignment for your organization may sound familiar:

  • Have a clear vision for the outcome you want.
  • Match your internal mission statement to your public-facing mission statement.
  • Understand what unique value you’re bringing to the marketplace.
  • Understand your audience, and what might be preventing them from undertaking the change you envision.

Action

As a creative firm, we identify challenges and make things (from social media ads to websites) to solve those challenges. There is a quote often attributed to Einstein that goes something like this:

"If I had an hour to solve a problem, I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions."

If we’ve spent our first 55 minutes achieving alignment, we have a shared understanding of our goal and where we can move the needle to help achieve it. Before we try a solution, we identify all the obstacles that are preventing your audience from taking action and see where we can exert leverage to get a better outcome.

We’ve done a lot of work for public health campaigns in Mississippi, so I’m always attuned to that world. I recently heard a public health official commenting on radio about the challenges to getting Mississippians to be more active: walking and running instead of driving, for example. A traditional approach to this problem might advertising all the health benefits of physical activity and hoping that it’ll change behavior.

Ultimately, this approach is not going to move the needle because it’s out of alignment with the real obstacles for the audience to be more active. In certain parts of the state, there are dangers that make walking unsafe, such as streets with no sidewalks or lighting, or aggressive stray dogs. Residents in these areas don’t need a marketing campaign to convince them that walking is healthy; they need a process to develop solutions to these structural problems. Considering your business challenge as a symptom allows us to see the system as a whole and get to work on the root causes.

Before we take action, we figure out a strategic sequence that will unlock value for your business at each stage. For example, if your website isn’t optimized, we need to improve it before we start driving traffic to it. Everything you see in our Work section is intertwined with alignment so we know we are taking the correct and most valuable action. Only when alignment and action are in harmony will we generate the impact we want.

Photo by Joshua Sortino on Unsplash

Want to start getting aligned? Talk to us at info@creativedistillery.com.