Location, location, location – the nature and nurture behind your brand
I’m sure you can guess what this post is about. And though this might sound strange as it's my topic of choice, it’s important to say this straight off the bat: location is disappearing. Or, rather, the barriers our locations once created are fading. Location is nearly a non-factor now in how we collaborate and communicate with our clients, partners and colleagues alike.
Skype alone has more than 300 million users who rely on its global video-conferencing capabilities. Add that to the millions of other folks holding video conferences on GoToMeeting and Google Hangouts and the 800 million who use WhatsApp to text a quick message to someone across an ocean. Our entire world really is just a touch, tap or click away – which is pretty amazing.
But while our physical location has certainly become less important in how we conduct business, the impact that location can have on brands (and us) is more important than ever.
The way I see it, there are two sides to a brand: nature and nurture. From the start, a brand is hardwired with a particular personality and focus – from its positioning and key messages to its mission and vision. This is a brand’s DNA – it provides internal forces that guide the brand no matter the changes that happen around it. That’s nature.
Then, the soft wiring comes in. These are the external forces that add character and flavor – the things at which a brand flexes its muscles and comes out a little stronger (fingers crossed) on the other side. Things like an evolving marketplace, new technology, work culture and – you guessed it – location are just a few factors that nurture a brand. These external factors are what help make a brand unique, more mature and more trusted. In a word, more authentic – and authenticity is in high demand among consumers, investors and partners alike.
Much like location leaves an imprint on an individual (from personality to hobbies to food preferences), it also directly influences a brand. It can shape perspectives, approaches, processes and cultures. Location influences how your brand speaks, thinks and acts. The power of place is pervasive and borderless. Perhaps it’s time more brands considered how their locations brand them.
Many brands have already put their location to work and have been doing so since their inception. A few that come to mind are the Minnesota-based Red Wing Shoe Company, London-bred Beefeater Gin and Detroit-driven General Motors, which in recent years showcased its local and national heritage in several Chrysler and Chevrolet commercials. Even here at The Frameworks, location is alive and well in what we do and how we do it.
No place like home
London. Detroit. Tokyo. Minneapolis. These are the four cities The Frameworks calls home, and with each city comes a slightly different perspective.
Detroit, also known as Motor City, was one of the first backbone cities of 20th-century America. Tough, edgy and innovative, the city is experiencing a revival fuelled by tenacity, vision and the arts.
Minneapolis, where I'm based, is a hardy city shaped by unforgiving winters, incredibly forgiving summers, lake-cabin culture, a Protestant work ethic, Garrison Keillor (I jest, but only sort of) and at its heart is a passion for the arts. It was also recently named the most literate city in the United States.
London and Tokyo, meanwhile, are global cities in every sense of the word. London presents a striking combination of past and future, where the city’s near 2,000-year history greets a modern landscape that’s fast-paced, forward-moving and ever-so-sleek. Similarly, Tokyo mingles longstanding tradition with technology, impressing the world with its efficiency, humming energy and mass movement of people, ideas, goods and services – making it a driving global force.
Merging these four cities – bringing together Midwestern hip and grit with Euro-Asian edge and innovation – has put a stamp on the work we do at The Frameworks. That – along with the 10 nationalities among our 50-plus Frameworkers – has helped shape the perspectives, personalities, approaches, strategies, tastes and visions at The Frameworks. It’s a diverse collection of input, driven and aligned by our brand DNA that fuses to form an even stronger end result for our clients.
Location is a unique part of our brand that we’ve embraced as we coordinate efforts between London and Minneapolis, Tokyo and Detroit and altogether at once, because that’s the thing – the more location becomes less of a barrier to conducting our work, the more we can use it to inspire the work we do.
So, the next time you’re seeking a bit of brand inspiration, look no further than outside your door(s). And while you’re at it, never underestimate the power of your climate (terrible or otherwise) to fuel creativity and productivity, something I take a look at here in Entrepreneur.
Janelle has left The Frameworks.
- Brand identity