As a reminder, being anchored in Identity boils down to focus and intention, facilitated through your mission, habits, and values. The mission lets your team, target audience, and other stakeholders know what your focus is; habits keep your team aligned with your mission through intentional processes, procedures and traditions; and values are the intentional principles designed to preserve an authentic brand identity as it grows and evolves.
Direction & Persistence
Vision serves the purpose of guiding you in the right direction and maintaining persistence. The vision is the vivid depiction of the world in light of your business’ work. While the mission entails what you do, your vision describes what the world looks like because of what you do. If constructed properly, the vision of this impending reality will keep you persistent and heading in the desired direction. It is long-term and ambitious enough to keep your business ever-evolving towards greater impact for your Shipmates.
For the anchored brand the vision should be:
Specific & vivid
Long-term - describe the endgame
Big and audacious!
Evoke Emotion – excited, happy, nervous, humored, proud, etc.
Considers the impact you desire to have on others
Now, I do admit that this one is a bit challenging for me to describe concisely and clearly, but it is one of my favorite elements of the Anchor. You kind of have to see it in action to get it (see what I did there – see it…vision lol). However, it’s one of my favorite things to work on with individual businesses. That’s because Vision is probably one of the most unifying elements of the Anchor. Whereas Identity helps your Shipmates identify and emote with you, Vision helps them decide if they actually want to hop aboard and take the journey with you.
When a business has a clearly defined Vision that incorporates the five listed elements, it allows the brand to move beyond business success to community impact. That is not to say that financial success is sacrificed or comes second to community impact. In fact, it is quite the opposite. A business anchored in Vision creates a lane that only it can fill, rather than working to fit into a pre-established lane. It creates a tailor fit that accentuates your business’ best attributes. It helps to establish a presence that would create a void for the communities it impacts were it to suddenly no longer exist. It helps you move from making transactions with buyers, to serving customers through relationship. The difference is that buyers purchase for convenience and may choose another when your product or service is no longer most convenient, whereas customers purchase for loyalty and will inconvenience themselves to shop with you (think gas station coffee vs. Starbucks).
Now, certainly organizations can enjoy success without a well-defined vision, but here is why anchored brands rely on vision for greater impact. No matter how a brand measures success, it is generally an internal-facing metric that measures the business’ objectives. Being intentional about how to impact others allows anchored brands to establish stakeholder-facing success metrics that are yet still linked with business success. This ensures that, as the business’ value increases, the experiences of those impacted by their work increase in value as well. This makes anchored brands popular with their stakeholders – customers and non-customers alike. And, what is great for the business is that it becomes positioned as an authority in its communities. In other words, it makes anchored brands somewhat of a People’s Champ.
An anchored Identity is what helps your Shipmates get to know you and decide if they like you. But just as we do not necessarily decide to go on every journey as the folks we like, all who like and identify with your business will not want to take that long-term journey with you as a Shipmate. That is okay. That is actually what you want, to sift through those who are not a good fit to take the journey with you so that your true Shipmates can climb aboard. Being anchored in Vision is how you determine which stakeholders to bring along the journey with you, so that you serve them perfectly.
Accountability & Capacity
Shipmates serve the purpose of keeping you accountable to your Identity, Vision, and those impacted by your work. Shipmates are among the most crucial elements for the anchored brand. Knowing who your Shipmates are helps you to identify with whom to communicate with directly. The reality is everyone will not be a customer, despite the quality or relatability of our products and services. Identifying your Shipmates allows you to operate more efficiently, communicating directly to those who are most likely to support and grow your business as unofficial ambassadors or advocates.
The goal is to communicate your Identity and Vision to those most likely to be inspired by it (remember our formula for Inspiration from The Business of Inspiration). You establish trust by communicating your Identity – you can’t trust who you don’t know. Similarly, a well communicated Vision helps potential Shipmates know where you are taking them so they can decide if that’s where they want to go. At Ship and Anchor we have identified 4 Shipmate segments:
Team: The team refers to staff, employees, and contractors. They are the folks that you work with directly in the production of goods and services. It does not include vendors or other kinds of suppliers. Conventional wisdom says that customers are the most important shipmates; however, I contend that the team is more important because they are the direct link to customers. An enthusiastic, inspired, supported, and fulfilled team will always provide an excellent customer experience. It is difficult to consistently deliver an excellent customer experience if the team is not satisfied with the work. Business owners' and executives’ main priority is building an organization that serves the team; their next priority is teaching the team the standard of excellence for service delivery to customers. Be sure to do the following for your team:
Define what success looks like
Establish a Standard of Excellence
Target Customers: While we would like for everyone to be our customers, businesses should not work to serve everyone. The most effective thing a business can do, especially early on, is to cultivate a community of believers. The hook is that customers become believers by subscribing to what you believe in, which is why clearly communicating your mission, values, & vision is critical. Even if the group of believers are small, by serving target customers well and communicating to them effectively, they will convert into ambassadors. How to determine your target customer?
Who relates to your Identity?
Who is most eager to go where you’re going (vision)?
Collaborators: These are other businesses and organizations that also serve your target customers. Generally, they do not offer the same product or service as you, but they may. Collaborators usually offer products or services that complement yours. Nonetheless, these are organizations that you can partner with to expand reach and better serve your target customer by offering value that you currently don’t have capacity to provide. While the value added to customers through collaboration is invaluable, collaboration also is required to ultimately achieve your Vision. Why? Well, because nothing significant in life is achieved by an individual person or entity. If the Vision is as big and ambitious as it should be, it will always require an enthusiastic network to achieve and maintain.
Whose work is complementary to yours?
Who does what you do, but at a different level, higher or lower?
Stakeholders: There are two types of stakeholders for any business or organization – those with direct stake (usually financial, like investors), and those with indirect stake (community members and others who benefit in some way from your business activities). While you may not work directly with them in production and they may not be your target audience, engaging stakeholders regularly in a way that highlights the beneficial externalities they enjoy because of your business converts them to advocates. Advocates are not as invested as ambassadors but they are useful for certain campaigns and public opinion.
A local grocery store could be an example. Let’s say someone never shops at that grocery store; however, they may benefit from the store in that it increases neighborhood property values – make sense? While they may never purchase your product or service, they may be willing to advocate or testify, so to speak, on your behalf. This helps point potential customers in your direction. So, when determining who are your stakeholders, consider:
Who is or could be indirectly impacted by your work?
Who influences my target customer?
While every business should be customer-centric, an anchored business remains mindful of their Shipmates - its team, target customers, collaborators, and stakeholders. These are the segments of people and organizations who will help transform the Vision for your business into a reality.
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