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What's Your Brand's Legacy?

What separates a business from a legacy?

This is the question that Mark Miller and his colleagues at Team One set out to answer when they created a research branch called The Legacy Lab.  The Legacy Lab collaborates with well-known and respected names across different industries and organization sizes who have successfully made the transition from a business to a true brand legacy, and figures out how they did it.

Essentially, “we are doing cultural studies in how brands can exist for a long time,” explained Miller.

Miller spoke on Friday, November 19th at the VCU Brandcenter to students and members of local Richmond, Virginia ad agencies about The Legacy Lab’s findings.  He also shared real-world examples from some of the brand leaders with whom they have worked. 

The theme of Miller’s presentation at the VCU Brandcenter was that the key to achieving brand legacy is long-term thinking in a short-term world.  Miller further explained that there are there are three big things that successful brand leaders are thinking by employing this logic: what problem can they solve, what unique skills do they offer the world, and how to do it while staying true to themselves.

Through The Legacy Lab’s research case studies, they break this down a little further by identifying common themes successful brands share.  They explain the use of these themes through what they call “The Modern Legacy Mindset.”  Here are some highlights regarding each theme and how brands should align themselves for success, according to Miller:

PERSONAL: Miller best explained this by sharing advice he received from a top brand leader – the key for success is to also find personal happiness in what you do. How? Do something that you love, do something that you are good at, provide something that the world needs more of and do something you can make money at. 

BEHAVIORAL: Successful brands live their message. The brand leaders ask themselves, how do the decisions I make for my brand relate to the brand’s core values, and how do they preserved them? This idea needs to be rooted in your brand’s culture and practiced from the top down.

INFLUENTIAL: Successful brands influence others and want to make them part of their legacy. This applies to both those in the organization and the consumers they want to engage.  Miller shared a message from (RED) CEO, Deb Dugan to best illustrate this idea.  “(RED) was created to beRED-logo.png a smart and resourceful solution to a very real problem. And very quickly, it became apparent that it was changing the mind-set around how business and philanthropy intersect.” 

UNCONVENTIONAL: Many brands make their mark not by just being the best at what they do, but also being the only ones who do what they do. Now this does not mean that there is only one company out there selling xyz products and services, but there needs to be something fundamentally different about your product or service that sets you apart from all the others.  The brand has to make itself truly unique.

PERPETUAL: Miller summed this one up best by explaining, “Modern legacy building is a continual journey synthesizing the stories from the past and the realities of the present to inform the future.” Basically, successful brands stay true to their purpose while still being able to evolve and adapt.

Some of these concepts seem fairly simple, while others are more daunting. Miller is clear when he addresses the VCU Brandcenter group that this long-term thinking in a short-term world is the hardest part of business. Most organizations cannot think a decade down the road; they are more concerned with the short-term needs they are faced with. 

“This isn’t for everyone… this methodology is more for the rare few,” explained Miller.  When asked about employing the ideas behind The Modern Legacy Mindset, Miller said that “These statements are lovely to make, harder to achieve,” but there are those few who do it well. 

Whether you buy into this logic or not, it is bold and definitely makes you think. Do I do these things, do the companies I work with do these things, how can we better improve our mindset to make ourselves more successful? 

A parting thought that I will leave you with from Miller is: if you are good at what you do, if you care about it and work hard at it you are going to find a way to succeed.

Bold ideas. Creative thinking. Understanding and engaging target audiences. These are the elements of The Legacy Lab and also the backbone of NDP. To find out more about The Legacy Lab, see some of their interviews with top brand leaders, and learn more about their findings, check out The Legacy Lab’s website.

For more information about NDP and how we use bold thinking for brands, contact us at info@ndp.agency. Or call us – 866-677-9817.

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