Nonprofit Performance 360 Issue 13

ROBERTA GILBERT Systems Thinking

Guiding Principles Must Come Before Branding

What is a Brand? I think of a brand as a few catchy, quick words that can be ascribed to a person, thing, place, or group in order to bring it or them to mind easily. It must have been invented by the marketing profession. High-level (more emotionally mature) persons do not pigeonhole themselves into categories like brands, except for special purposes, such as selling a product or service.The closest they would otherwise come to branding would be in defining I’ve written two articles in Nonprofit Performance Magazine [see Issues #1 and 2] on guiding principles. Briefly, guiding principles are well thought-through ideas that one considers important enough for living life to utilize them over a substantial amount of time. One wrestles with them enough to get as many of one’s questions answered as possible. They are not set in concrete. They remain guiding principles only until new and convincing information arises to modify or destroy them. We all have principles that guide us in life. Some of us - low-level or emotionally immature people - live by what others teach, what we see in print, or what the last person we talked with believed. High-level people don’t take anything for granted. They think everything through and they stay with it until they get some answers: answers that make sense and are logically consistent. their Guiding Principles for life. What are Guiding Principles?

How Do Guiding Principles Operate for a Life? In high-level people, these principles operate to guide everything one says, thinks, or does. The higher level the person, the more they operate in him or her. There are degrees of this, just as there are degrees of emotional maturity (differentiation) in all of us. In the world in which we all operate, sometimes a brand or catchy phrase is needed to help people remember what we or our product is about. If a brand or a quick phrase is needed in order to promote a service or a product, the guiding principles operate to define, create, or birth the brand that is needed. But Guiding Principles Must Come First Guiding principles are the bedrock for a life well-lived. That is why they are called guiding principles. And they must come first. They must come before the brand.That way, the brand will be consistent with what the person, organization, or product is all about. Some organizations have had wonderful meetings hammering out their guiding principles. Some people work on them while they sit in waiting rooms. I invite anyone reading this to start on writing guiding principles, and see if life does not become somewhat more meaningful as a result! Dr. Roberta Gilbert is the author of a trilogy of books on leadership:  Extraordinary Leadership ,  The Eight Concepts , and  The Cornerstone Concept . She is the founding director of The Extraordinary Leadership Seminar.

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