Pile of coins

Image Can Build a Business

I am fascinated by businesses. Every company has a story and the journalist in me wants to find out what it is. I will happily listen to a company’s history and views, what’s important to the company and how they move forward. It builds a story in my mind that engages me. However, when I ask about the company character I either get a blank stare or a diatribe on internal workings. What I don’t get is company character.

A company’s character is as important as its story but what exactly is company character. Some people will tell you that’s a company’s image and end there. That’s part but not everything. A company character should be as lively and engaging as any character in a novel or movie. It should be three dimensional with wants and desires as well as obstacles to overcome and ways it can grow.

So what is company character? The company’s character is that aspect of the company that embodies the values, history, desires and obstacles of the company. Like any character, it has dimension and depth. It both motivates people, such as clients and employees, and helps shape events but it is also motivated by those same people and events. In short, it’s the embodiment of who you want your company to be.

How, then, do you create a company character? Shouldn’t it just develop naturally out of the business itself? That’s not really a good idea since the character of your company is fundamental to its image. Leaving it to chance does not give you control over the direction your company takes and how it interacts with employees and clients. You do have the ability to create your company’s character, though.

Here’s an exercise every entrepreneur should do. Go and grab a coffee and sit somewhere you can think. A pad of paper and pen might come in handy for this as well so grab those. Make sure it’s time when you won’t be disturbed. This exercise will take a while and you need to do some deep thinking.

Close your eyes and think about your company for a moment. Really take a moment to get it fixed in your head and think about the vision, the history, the mission of your company. Think about where you want the company to go and how you want it to get there. List off the challenges your company faces now and as it grows.

Now with those thoughts in your head, create an image in your mind of a person. Are they young or old? Sophisticated or innocent? Do they wear a suit or jeans? Is it a male or female or gender neutral? How do they speak, walk, act and react? This image is not the same as your ideal customer. Rather, it is an embodiment of how you perceive your company.

With this character in mind you can now drive the image of your company and the direction your company takes. This character can also help you decide how you want to handle the challenges your company faces and how you want to interact with employees and clients. It will help you to gain control over where and how your company grows.