The GuideStar Blog retired September 9, 2019. We invite you to visit its replacement, the Candid Blog. You’re also welcome to browse or search the GuideStar Blog archives. Onward!

GuideStar Blog

Think "People," Not "Organization"

Reprinted from Branding Bytes

Several years ago, I was brought into a project to help a medical practice rebrand itself with a new name and logo. The practice consisted of 12 physicians, 6 of whom were on the verge of retirement and 6 who were relatively young and had no thoughts of leaving the practice anytime soon.

For more than two years, they had been bickering among themselves about whether or not they should change the name of the practice; if so, what should the new name be? Should they change their antiquated logo; if so, what should it look like? It came down to them not even being able to decide on what colors they should use to help define their look and brand.

Frustrated, the graphic designer this practice had hired called and asked if I could help get this organization beyond these impasses. What the designer and I decided was that I would interview each of the docs individually and in confidence, then we'd jointly present the findings to the entire group, along with our recommendations.

After all the interviews were completed, what became clear was that these docs agreed on a lot more than they disagreed on. Their mistake over the last two years had been that they had focused on their differences rather than on the things they could mutually come to grips with, and as a result had ferociously dug their heels into positions they could not get out of.

By bringing the common ground to their attention and encouraging them to move to it, we helped them move past these blocks. Within two months they had a new name and new logo, with colors they could all agree on, as well as a new, invigorating attitude toward their practice.

A Referendum on Your Brand

Like many of you who are managers and leaders of organizations, I used to see my consulting role as being that of a troubleshooter. I believed my sole fiduciary responsibility to my clients was to discover what was wrong with their organizations, rarely giving much consideration to what might be right.

Was I wrong! But it goes further than that.

Over the years, I've learned that our jobs as managers, leaders, and consultants isn't to work with or for organizations, but rather to work with and alongside people. To help bring them together so that they can work productively together. To show them where they agree rather than disagree. To learn what makes them tick and what motivates them to get up each morning to come to work. Is it just the paycheck or is it something else?

Then we need to take the exercise a step further: How can we tap into what will help them perform better? What is it that we can do as leaders to transform what they passively perceive as a job into what they passionately come to believe is a valuable mission?

An organization is defined as a social unit of people, systematically structured and managed to meet a need or to pursue collective goals on a continuing basis. But without people, with all of their talents, skills, diversity—and, yes, faults—what we think of as organizations would be nothing more than soulless collections of bricks and mortar.

In many respects, your organization's brand is a referendum and reflection on how it treats its people. My experience working with many organizations over the years has taught me that the better an organization treats its people—including employees, customers, clients, and volunteers—the better the organization's brand.

It's often that simple.

Larry Checco, Checco Communications
© 2011, Larry Checco. Reprinted from Branding Bytes, no. 24 (fall 2011). Reprinted with permission.

think-people-not-organization_Larry_Checco.jpgLarry Checco is president of Checco Communications and author of Branding for Success: A Roadmap for Raising the Visibility and Value of Your Nonprofit Organization. Larry is a nationally recognized public speaker, workshop presenter, and consultant on branding. His new book, Aha! Moments in Brand Management: Commonsense Insights to a Stronger, Healthier Brand, is scheduled for publication later this year.

Topics: Communications