What defines who you are as a person? What guides you on how you choose to act as a corporate citizen? I obviously can’t answer those questions for you, but I can share what guides us at IMAGEHAUS to help make this world a better place to live, work and play.
Compassion. Creativity. Candor. Courage. The 4Cs. These values have been the foundation IMAGEHAUS has been building upon since I started my own design consultancy back in 2000. In order to be distinctively different, I made a strong commitment to provide $1M in creative services for organizations rich in these values — the 4Cs. I made this commitment by making it part of our marketing plan, with the ultimate goal of building brand awareness and my network, while at the same time helping those in need.
Many people questioned my sanity when I told them my plan — a plan that today has amounted to 35% of our total revenue. I see it differently. How else would I have received the gift of knowing so many wonderful people in a huge community like the Twin Cities as I do today? How can I put a price on these genuine relationships?
So, why did I choose these four words to guide our HAUS? The “why” comes from “how” each one comes to life here at IMAGEHAUS.
Compassion: to understand, in your hearts, the suffering of others and then do something about it. No matter how big or small.
Creativity: to transcend traditional ideas into meaningful solutions and put the power of design to work.
Candor: to be candid, free from bias and filled with honesty and clarity in attitude and speech. Expanding audiences and clarifying the vital messages that compel people to care, to listen, and to act.
Courage: to remain true to our convictions, leading us to act based on our beliefs. To create impact, especially in spite of criticism.
With the 4Cs in place for 10 years now, we surpassed our fiscal goal by giving $1.8M in creative services to date. (We surpass our emotional goal every day.) Those 4Cs are now becoming Foresee, The IMAGEHAUS Giving Program — our ongoing way of paying it forward.
I knew this would be a long-term investment. It would build over time into something bigger than we imagined. And I knew it would help tell the story of a distinctively different design firm, called IMAGEHAUS.
Something that could not be foreseen has recently happened on the personal front. I was selected as one of the top 20 men in One Man Minneapolis, a competition that will select one man who best represents the best of the Twin Cities from the perspective of community involvement. I am honored, to say the least, for receiving this recognition for giving back — based on the 4Cs that sparked the creation of IMAGEHAUS 10 years ago.
Thanks for listening to our story. We would love to hear yours.
Your image is a first impression that, if pleasing, leads to a second, a third and ideally a lifetime of positive experiences. Whether we’re talking about ourselves as human beings or as company leaders, the same principle applies.
Creating an image that distinctively communicates the essence of your company is vital, yet it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes research, strategy, insight and the foresight of seeing your brand as a long-term investment rather than a short-term expense.
So where do you begin? Try this right-brain exercise to start the discovery process.
Pretend your company is a person. What do you see? What is it wearing? Does it say, “Hi,” “Hello,” or “Hey dude, what’s up?” Is it male or female? What kind of car does it drive? How about its personality? Sense of humor? Buttoned-up or laid back? What do others say about this person? Who talks with this person the most? What do they want to know? Why?
That personality is your company’s brand. Determining your brand and creating promotional materials that are in line with that personality is what establishes the obvious difference between the amateurs who get lost in the crowd and the professionals who stand out and succeed.
Today, a brand is much more than a logo. It is everything from the words you put on paper to the message on your voice mail. Every opportunity to communicate with your audience must be true to your brand. Inconsistency causes confusion and leads to brand disloyalty. It’s like having multiple personalities and the customer won’t know what or who to expect.
To help you create a strong brand, take a look at a few tried-and-true tips:
It would be unimaginable for people to build a 30-story building without a blueprint, so why why would you try to build a company without one? Without a strategic blueprint, you leave the interpretation of your brand to your customer. Your brand needs to be controlled so you can navigate it through ever-changing trends and markets.
- Know your target audience.
Put yourself in their shoes and get inside their heads. The better you know your audience, the more effective you will be in communicating and connecting with them. Their wants and needs help drive your brand. By digging deeper your can hit on an emotional tie that leads to brand loyalty.
- Make sure your employees are true to your brand.
Educate them, excite them, show them exactly how their actions and interactions affect the company brand. No matter where they work in the company, everything they do says something about who your company is.
Whatever it takes to make your brand a true champion, the foundation is built on a well-planned brand strategy. Remember, develop your brand DNA, know your audience, and ensure that every employee communicates your brand.
It takes an investment of time and money but, in the end, it makes the difference.