Marle-Maria Janßen
Head of Strategy bei MUTABOR

There’s never been so much change. Never before have so many industries been stirred up or, better said, broken up. Never before has it been so exciting. Never before has the question of one’s own transformation been so urgent. How do you manage change? How do you become a change maker? Brands cannot provide the answer. But they can be the hallmark of the true driver of transformation.

What is a brand anyway?

We can easily explain what makes a successful brand. For example, successful brands offer a consistent experience across every touchpoint. And we also know why it is vital to have a brand. Because, for example, it provides orientation and can arouse desire. We set requirements: A brand must be relevant, differentiating and authentic. And we categorize and theorize: Private label, premium brand, umbrella brand, employer brand and so on.

But none of these answers what brand actually is.

Ultimately, a brand is just scaffolding. A construct. A framework. A shell. It is the surface with which the consumer comes into contact. A brand forms an image in people’s minds. Brand is the intersection of corporate identity and target group needs. It condenses characteristics and messages. The importance of a brand is indisputable. But to see brand as an approach for transformation is a misunderstanding.

Transformation is not the brand’s job

Transformation needs more than one surface or intersaction, transformation does not require condensation, but depth. Anyone who reacts to the changing market and target group conditions by simply attaching importance to the brand, sharpening it, reformulating it or redesigning it, only paints a new picture on the exterior, not on the interior.

Transformation can only come from within – from the identity of a company. This includes corporate management, strategy and history, employees (or better: all employees), structure, culture, corporate purpose, values and competencies. Identity is not the manifesto in the onboarding booklet, not the guidelines that adorn the company corridors, nor the text about us on the website.

But rather: How are people welcomed at the reception desk? How is interchange created? How do you deal with innovative ideas? Who is allowed to say something when the boss is in the room? Who represents the corporate vision? How does the company celebrate? Just to name a few aspects. You can even deduce something from the canteen menu.

Identity contains the power to act and the will to change. Those who want to shape change must focus on identity (and above all be able to do so).

A transformation process is therefore highly individual – in every company, different barriers must be broken down and other drivers that release velocity. But one principle applies to every transformation process: the faster you use design to make change visible, the more momentum it creates. And the greater the momentum, the more sustainable the transformation.