WHOLE BRAND THINKING™: Turn your brand story into interconnection.

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An effective brand makes demand creation more efficient in a world where human attention is at a premium. It is a solution — or at least a partial solution — to a particular business challenge. A whole brand considers each opportunity it has to directly or indirectly interact with customers, recognize that its brand is the sum of those interactions, and is intentional about how each of those interactions contributes to the brand story.

Since each individual organization’s business challenges are unique based on their industry or growth stage, so too are their whole brand solutions. What constitutes a whole brand for a large financial services company will differ entirely from that for a start-up home goods company. What whole brands tend to have in common is a strong brand narrative that acts like a beacon to pull people in by crafting products, experiences, and communications that work harmoniously to make customers feel something deeper than the products themselves.  

These brands have a clear sense of identity, purpose, and role in their consumers' lives. That serves as an effective filter for deciding where, when, and how to show up to their customers. They realize that their brand is defined by a customer’s experience dealing with customer service, or how they feel when they open a package or touch a brand’s product for the first time — or the 100th time.  It’s how someone feels when they enter a store or attend a community event.  A brand is the aggregated story of all of these touchpoints and the feelings they impart, and also what people think other people feel about the brand.  That’s how a brand becomes part of someone’s identity: it only works if it’s broadly understood what a brand represents.  But what customers really feel when they experience these things, and what ties them all together, are shared beliefs and shared values.


  1. Know your story. Crystalize and sharpen your brand narrative; your purpose, why your brand exists, and the role it serves. And the simpler you can craft this story, the better.

  2. Commit to your story. Be decisive and confident in aligning your organization around your story. In a world where seemingly everything is A/B tested, resist the urge to A/B test core elements of your story. Instead, let your story guide your decisions and actions at the highest level, from strategy to product to brand communications to real-world interactions.

  3. Think of your brand story as a book. Organize your brand narrative into chapters and keep the plot moving to keep it interesting while staying true to the beliefs and values underlying the story.

This article originally appeared in the Whole Brand Briefing newsletter.

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