Rich Keller co-authored this piece with me to share how Godiva Chocolatier came into their own as a brand, using just One Word. I’ve taken a similar approach by centering BW Missions around my core value. The next article in this series will delve deeper into my own personal path to self-discovery, one that led me to build BW Missions.
Godiva’s Secret Ingredient?
The peak luxury brand in its market, Godiva is about so much more than chocolate. The real Lady Godiva story is all about generosity. Putting this human-centric core value at the forefront is how the brand retains such a strong hold in a highly competitive vertical. Figuring out this bulletproof strategy didn’t happen overnight. If your company is just beginning the branding process, you might feel overwhelmed… but you’re not alone.
Personal and Corporate Branding Have the Same way to Score: One Word
It might surprise you, but the best and biggest global brands are infused with the core value of their founders’ identity. For me, that’s when I discovered that BW Missions and I are one of the same. Self-discovery is the secret ingredient to building a brand that truly resonates with your audience, and understanding what you truly have to share with the world is the fundamental first step.
As the consumer or creator, this isn’t always a simple foot to start off on. Even the most prestigious founders find it challenging to really pinpoint what they have to share with the world.
The answer to that question is the key to figuring out the fundamental principles of a company’s ability to thrive, from how to show up in a crowded market to how it’ll appeal to their audience.
Enter Rich Keller, the catalyst who crafted identities for some of the world’s most iconic global brands from Oreo, Chips Ahoy! and Planters to Fig Newtons and Godiva. I’ve been incredibly lucky our paths crossed; going through his SCORE ‘One Word’ personal branding process has fundamentally shaped BW Missions, and helped me find myself along the way.
Showing the world your realest, unfiltered self takes courage, but your core truth is the greatest value you can offer. It might surprise you, but it’s the exact same thing for brands. What core value do you want to share with the world, and how can your business model bring that to life?
Working with Rich has shown me that building a personal brand must begin with understanding yourself. The best brands are built from the inside out. When infused with the founder’s core value, they can forge a stronger emotional connection with their audience.
The Difference Between Brands and Products
When you ask someone the first thing that comes to mind when they think of Godiva, most people say, “Chocolate.” Why? Because that’s the product they sell.
Products are functional, but brands are emotional because they capture and communicate the impact someone feels upon experiencing the brand. Products disappear after consumption or use, but can linger on in people’s mind if they create that emotional connection.
Like every brand a consumer interacts with, identifying that emotional feeling creates an “identity” in his/her mind, thus defining what that brand offers in term of value. Let me share an example…
Articulating that emotion is what turns products into successful brands. Without saying a word, the moment you give someone a “Gold Box” of Godiva, the recipient immediately thinks the following about the you, the gifter:
- They spent money on me.
- They went out of their way to purchase this.
- They felt I must have done something to deserve this special gift.
When people work with us at BW Missions, we are not actually giving a marketing service. We are giving them a path forward they couldn’t do on their own and sharing how we have helped our other clients be the guides in their heroes (consumers) story.
When clients sign on with BW Missions, my goals are for the (client) to immediately think:
- My message will stand out because they know how to tell my story in a way that connects me to the people who want to hear it
- They have a plan to transform me from an expert into a thought-leader
Where our products might be client “services’ right now, we could productize our core value of PATHFINDING to merchandise such as self-discovery journals, online courses, books, and speaking down the road.
There are many ways to share your core value with the world if you build products for your company from the inside out.
The Numbers Agree
In this same vein, a recent study performed shows us the better we understand ourselves and our core value, the deeper the relationships we can form.
Modern society often lacks deep human connection, which required the challenging and sometimes even dirty or painful work of looking at ourselves honestly in the mirror. Taking inventory of our weaknesses is the key to uncovering and evolving our strengths.
Rich has helped me uncover the data points in my own story that illuminate the path I’ve been searching for my whole life.
How Godiva Crafted an Identity Around Generosity
As a global brand marketing executive for 25 years, Rich exceled at crafting brand identities in the consumer products space. A frequent challenge he faced was communicating the role each brand played in consumer’s lives.
Godiva was one of the hardest to accomplish this task. Everybody loves chocolate. In fact, Rich said he has yet to meet a person who spits out a piece of chocolate. However, when there are hundreds of chocolate brands in the market, how does a brand like Godiva truly stand-out?
First, Rich had to dig into Lady Godiva’s story.
According to the legend, in the eleventh century, Lady Godiva rode a horse naked through the streets of Coventry on Market Day. Her husband, Leofric, imposed an oppressive tax from Coventry citizens. Lady Godiva, aiming to help the citizens, begged him to stop.
Leofric said to her, “You will have to ride naked through Coventry before I change my ways.”
Before beginning her ride to help Coventry, Godiva told everyone to stay in their homes to preserve her modesty. She then rode through the streets, her long hair draped so that it covered almost her whole body, allowing only her legs and eyes to remain visible. However, one man, now known as Peeping Tom, disobeyed her instructions and couldn’t help looking out at Godiva riding through Coventry on the horse. Upon doing so, the legend goes, he was instantly blinded.
I share this story because, if you think about it, Lady Godiva was generously giving herself to the townspeople so her husband would not impose this tax. Her generosity made the townspeoples’ day, much like a gold box of Godiva chocolate does for a modern-day recipient. This core value of generosity resonates so strongly with consumers because it is backed by a powerful story of the key person connected to this brand: Lady Godiva herself. Without understanding the data points of their past, it was impossible to predict Godiva’s future. It was critical to define the emotional core value Godiva brought forward into the world.
Rich’s experience taught him that when people gift Godiva, they are not actually gifting a chocolate product. They are giving an emotional value through generosity. At BW Missions, we give the gift of pathfinding, and a sense of belonging to people who want to fully stand out with their message.
Life is Like a box of Whatever you Find Valuable
For me, that’s pathfinding. Pathfinding is the gift I want to give to my clients and to the world.Just as Rich has astutely noted with Godiva building their story around Lady Godiva and her core value of Generosity, I’ve worked to build our company around my core value of Pathfinder, which comes directly from my own story.
This really resonated with me because as I looked at my own life, I’ve had all these incredible professional experiences from hosting events at the top floor of the World Trade Center to building a six-figure brand ambassador programs and a storytelling platform with hundreds of contributors.
Understanding our core value in “One Word” along our paths of self discovery show us how to become our best selves, find where we belong in the world, and build relationships with the right people. These two revelations are the guiding lights to see our self clearly and honestly assess our actions. Are we representing ourselves how we want others to see us? How does that reflect on our brand?
Pathfinding: BW Mission’s ‘One Word‘
Just as humans need to come into themselves, brands also need a clear identity in order to build effective relationships with an audience for the long haul. Evoking genuine emotional responses makes an indelible impact that extends far beyond a transaction in an online shopping cart or at the cashier in a store. If you want your company to impact the surrounding market landscape effectively, your goal should be making people feel something.
Personal Branding and Professional Branding Aren’t That Different
The significance of my story boils down to understanding why I took the actions I did. I truly didn’t know how to communicate this under one singular narrative or theme. Rich helped me uncover the common themes and narrative within all my actions to crystalize who I was and how I should communicate this to the world. Leading with why I do things and a clear purpose that is so strongly correlated to my past experiences has been so vital when sharing our company story at BW Missions.
When I graduated and came face-to-face with the start of my professional life, I realized that working in corporate environment wasn’t for me. I knew the bureaucracy would eventually stifle my ideas and I’d get tired asking for permission from my direct report. I knew there had to be another path to success.
At every setback or what seemed like an obstacle, finding an alternative path was always the way I had to go. And that’s exactly what we do for our clients. We don’t just do marketing and social media. At BW Missions, we build them individualized strategies and plans forward that will help them conquer the obstacles right in front of them and put them on the fast and most strategic path to success.
Show not Tell Your Core Value
As Rich strongly believes, brands win when they “show” instead of “tell” by letting their core value lead the way. Being able to communicate this core value simply by handing a “Gold Box” to someone you care about, without saying a word, is extremely powerful. All it takes is ‘One Word’ to communicate the power of your brand. What emotional value are you “gifting” to the people around you as a person? Answer that same question as a brand, and you’re well on your way to pathfinding already.
Building a brand is a lot like developing as a person. When we know who we are and what we care about [both as brands and people] navigating the journey of life is that much more meaningful and enjoyable. In Rich Keller’s words:
“When we let Godiva’s core value shine through when sharing Lady Godiva’s story, that’s when consumers saw us in a different light. All it took was ‘One Word’ to discover the value Godiva really offers at its core. Lady Godiva really did save the day riding that horse.”
The moral here? Your story matters.