Lindsay Pedersen is a Brand Strategist, Owner, and the Author of Forging an Ironclad Brand.
As a leader of one of Proctor & Gamble’s leading products, Lindsay mastered the art of making brand one of the most powerful tools she had as a leader.
Lindsay believes “A brand is an essential guide for leading a business, making decisions, engaging employees, and building an enduring relationship with customers.”
Bringing brand power to leadership is an exciting and valuable strategy for leaders at any level and, I believe, for your personal brand too.
I hope you enjoy and benefit from the 13 most intriguing insights from my interview with Lindsay. Read the insights below or view the presentation.
To your forward-thinking life and great success!
Bill Fox, Founder, Forward Thinking Workplaces
Lindsay Pedersen: Brand Strategist, Owner, and Author of Forging an Ironclad Brand.
At Forward Thinking Workplaces, we are discovering the people, insights, and strategies that lead to Forward Thinking minds, leaders, and workplaces of the future — today. Forward Thinking narratives will define the great workplaces of the 21st century.
13 FORWARD-THINKING INSIGHTS
- People in this company feel respected and dignified as a human being.
- A conversation that invites and allows whole beings to show up.
- An overlap between what the employee cares about and the company’s purpose.
- What matters to you?
- When people find meaning in the work that they’re doing everyday, it’s really energizing.
- Why is this company here?
- How am I doing?
- I noticed that I was having the same conversation.
- Brand was the most powerful tool I had as a leader at P&G.
- It’s a book for leaders.
- What is the one thing about your business different from anyone else and that your customers care about?
- There’s enormous power in single-mindedly bringing to life one strength of your business.
- It’s not brand for brand sake. It’s brand for the sake of focus and purpose and clarity.
How can we create workplaces where every voice matters, everyone thrives and finds meaning, and change and innovation happen naturally?
1. People in this company feel respected and dignified as a human being.
What a big question. I was thinking about the common thread in a work environment that feels like a thriving, vibrant culture. What’s the common thread? What enables that, and what I keep coming back to, is this idea of psychological safety. All individuals in this workspace or this company feel respected and dignified as human beings. It sounds so negative and necessary, but it’s surprisingly rare. The common thread is people in this company feel respected and dignified as a human being. People thrive and find meaning when they feel safe psychologically. When they succeed and find meaning, they naturally contribute. Meaningful to the business because they feel cared about, so they care too.
2. A conversation that invites and allows whole beings to show up.
Bill: I received an anonymous quote one time about our interviews, but it so relates. They said, “This conversation invites and allows whole beings to show up; like whole food, whole beings are more nutritious to the system they exist within.”
Lindsay: I love that. Brene Brown talks about that a lot. The wholehearted acceptance and welcoming of the whole person because we’re a whole person. We’re not just an automaton that creates widgets for a company. We have other things going on too, and when we see that, it’s very humanizing.
What does it take to get an employee’s full attention and best performance?
3. An overlap between what the employee cares about and what a company’s purpose is.
Assuming they have psychological safety, I think that’s the underlying condition. Once that’s true, how do you get the most out of this employee? To me, it’s an overlap be- tween what the employee cares about and what a company’s purpose is. When there is something the company stands for that human being who is an employee cares about, they will devote more of their cognitive resources. So number one, make employees feel psychologically safe. And number two, give them a purpose as a company that your employees can galvanize around.
What do people really lack and long for at work?
4. When people find meaning in the work that they’re doing every day, it’s really energizing.
I think it’s a very human quality to be a meaning seeker. We’re looking for meaning in everything we interact with within our environment. When that’s missing from a significant part of a person’s life, there isn’t a sense of why am I here? What is this all for? I think there’s something very existentially draining about being in an environment that has no meaning. Conversely, when people find meaning in work they’re doing every day, it’s really energizing. What people lack and long for at work is the same thing that people lack and long for in all of their lives, which means that something they’re spending their precious time and attention on matters to them.
What’s the most important question leaders should ask employees?
5. What matters to you?
What matters to you? What do you care about? What do you value in life?
What is the most important question employees should ask leaders?
6. Why is this company here?
Why is this company here? Why does this company or this business deserve to exist beyond creating and perpetuating a financial profit and loss? What are we doing here?
What is the most important question we should ask ourselves?
7. How am I doing?
I think of it in two ways. The first part is what’s the question that we ask ourselves, and the second part of it is making sure that we are asking ourselves questions, to begin with. I think there’s such a tendency to get caught in the vortex of the busyness of our lives. There are so many demands on our time and attention that massive swathes can pass when we haven’t even checked in with ourselves. The first thing, and the reason I love this question, is to stop, get still, and check in with yourself. It almost doesn’t matter what the question is as long as you’re taking time to ask yourself a question. The question I find to be the most revealing is, how am I doing? What’s it like for you right now? How is life right now for me? How can I be my own best friend and advocate?
What prompted you to write Forging an Ironclad Branding Strategy?
8. I noticed that I was having the same conversation.
It was a conversation of demystifying for leaders what brand means. I have this bee in my bonnet to make the brand accessible to an audience that has always found it a little bit off-putting, intimidating, or mysterious. I wrote this book to accomplish the same thing that I was doing in this conversation with leaders. I wanted to share with them the power of a brand as a leadership tool. A brand is much more than a logo.
A brand is an essential guide for leading business, making decisions, engaging employees, and building an enduring relationship with customers.
9. Brand was the most powerful tool I had as a leader at P&G.
There’s an ethos in consumer packaged goods where a brand is your most sustainable competitive advantage. A brand is what you stand for. It’s the thing that you uniquely own and bring to your customer. It is so powerful and was always so powerful in that world. I was surprised when I left consumer packaged goods and found that most people outside that realm thought the brand was a logo. Given how powerful the brand was for me as a leader at Clorox, I wanted to call attention to it. The brand was the most powerful tool that I had as a leader. There’s no reason a brand is useful in consumer packaged goods but not elsewhere. A brand is valuable anywhere you want to build a meaningful, profitable relationship with your customer.
There are many books on branding. What makes your book different?
#10. It’s a book for leaders.
Many books are written for marketing people, not for leaders and not for an audience with some baggage against branding. What makes my book different is the audience that I was writing it for. It’s for leaders, and because I am of the same ilk. I come from running a P&L business as a leader. I have a lot of empathy for what it’s like to be a leader and that constant tension of trying to survive in an increasingly competitive world while building a thriving and enduring business. I wanted them to harness brand as a leadership tool in the same way that I had been able to in the consumer packaged goods world.
What question is at the heart of your book?
11. What is the one thing about your business different from anyone else and that your customers care about?
When leaders can answer that pairing of questions, that’s their brand strategy. The thing that you uniquely bring that your audience really cares about. When I wrote this book, I wanted to get my reader in a philosophical place. They know that their business is here to create returns for investors and a livelihood for their employees. But it’s also here for some other reason. What is that reason that answer will be the thing that fuels your employees. It’s also going to be the thing that fuels your customers in the long term. Ultimately products and features can be copied, and patents eventually will expire. But your brand’s relationship with your audience is not something that others can copy. It’s a worthwhile exercise to discern that.
What is the readers' takeaway?
12. There’s enormous power in single-mindedly bringing to life one strength of your business.
The first is that there is a massive power in focus. The brand is a way to continually reveal what that focus should be and shine the light on that focus. The second takeaway is that brand is not merely a creative, right-brained intuitive exercise. It’s an exercise that you can approach in a step-by-step way. If you’re a person who is allergic to warm fuzzy concepts, you’ve likely been dismissing the brand. What I’m here to say is a brand is not squishy. A brand is the most enduring source of value and financial value creation we have as a business. You don’t have to sit passively and wait for the muse to tell you what your brand is. You can deliberately and intentionally define your brand. When you do, you not only unlock a lot of value for your business, but you also make your business feel more meaningful to lead.
13. It’s not brand, for brand's sake. It’s brand for the sake of focus and purpose and clarity.
I’m not a purist when it comes to brand. I hope people can start to think about brand in this big way I’m talking about. It’s less than I’m dogmatic about the word brand and more to say, “Hey leaders, you know that thing that you’ve been searching for? A sense of purpose that can be your focus as a business? Brand is a way to get to that purpose. I don’t want brand to feel like an I-should. I want brand to feel like a get-to. I get to do this.