Who will define the brand? A brand is an identity in relationship. So it's not a monologue from headquarters.
That's why Signal Hill's digital news venture Senior Correspondent is grassroots, first-person, audience-driven. Our brand is a conversation.
A healthy brand is formed by stakeholders' common understanding of the enterprise and shaped by particular interactions with the market. So it's essential to pay attention to customers' stories.
Customers dialogue with the brand, story meets story, and the brand is redirected down surprising paths. Wise leaders, then, go on a journey with the brand. That means less dictation, more discovery.
One industry that has been in dictation mode throughout its history is senior living. The branding here starts with a seemingly harmless, supposedly noble proposition: We take care of people. The proposition begets proclamation. The script is all monologue. The result is patronization, condescension, even, oddly, disdain. The notion of a brand becomes a stamp.
There's another way to do this. Ask for customers' stories. Mic them up. And as they speak, let go of the brand and see what it becomes.
That's what we're attempting through Senior Correspondent, where our mission is to amplify the voices of older adults for the good of society. Recently we launched a series called "Choosing Senior Living" in partnership with myLifeSite. The series provides a unique viewpoint on the senior living decision-making process from customers themselves. It's their first-person reporting, an inside scoop straight from the source.
Bob Marshall is one of the Senior Correspondents. He reports, "Like many of my generation, I had acquired the 'old folks rest home' image of places for the elderly who were forced to give up their independence. What I began to realize was that the CCRC offered an active and challenging place to live among people who were still physically and mentally engaged after successful careers. It wasn’t about need. It was the place these residents loved and wanted to be."
That's a customer who has something to say about the brand. That's a particular voice that shapes the brand, and thus gives it genuine power.
We're building Senior Correspondent's brand from the ground up through such voices. Senior living should do the same.
Check out the "Choosing Senior Living" series here.