How to Build Your Brand Ideal

Photo Credit: Bumble Hive Photography

Shimon Detwiler


“Any brand is simply the collective intent of the people behind it. To everyone your business touches, from employees to consumers, the brand defines who you are and what you stand for as a business. If you want great business results, you and your brand have to stand for something compelling. And that’s where brand ideals enter the equation.” Jim Stengel – Author of GROWThe Case For Brand Ideal

In, GROW, Jim Stengel writes about the importance of each company developing a “Brand Ideal” which he defines as “a shared goal of improving people’s lives. A brand ideal is a business’s essential reason for being, the higher-order benefit it brings to the world.”

Intent is a very interesting concept in business and in leadership.  Intent can be subjective vs. the objectivity of action.  Like the age old saying goes “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”.    Too often as leaders we get caught focusing on the urgent vs. the important.  We align our actions with the urgent while our collective intent or Brand Ideal  is sidelined with the important.  So how do we move our actions from the urgent to the important, the collective intent of the Brand Ideal?

  • Define: Defining your Brand Ideal in the most authentic and simple way is critical.  The longer and more complex the Brand Ideal the more difficult it is for your team and clients to consistently align with it.
  • Align:  The Brand Ideal is not a slogan, jingle or catch phrase.  It is a fundamental way of being. It drives behavior, decisions, as well as client and team experience.  Consistent messaging and questioning will drive Brand Ideal alignment.  Don’t be afraid to challenge process, strategy, service or team against the Brand Ideal.  If it doesn’t align – get it out!
  • Measure:  Real results should be able to be measured against a well defined and simple Brand Ideal.  Building KPIs that drive measurable action will allow you to measure what matters and drive performance improvement.
  • Reward:  Rewarding your team against the Brand Ideal will include two areas of focus Performance & Behavior performance based rewards must be well defined in advance and align with the tactical goals of the company.  Rewards associated to behavior can never be made to play second fiddle to performance rewards.  Performance rewards focus on the quick wins; behavioral rewards focus on long term foundational wins.
  • Repeat:  Building your Brand Ideal is not a one time exercise, or a weekend corporate retreat.  For it to be relevant it must innodate all you do.  A day should not go by that the Brand Ideal is not at the front of your corporate culture. Consistency and longevity is what will ingrain the Brand Ideal into your company and client experience.


When your corporate actions align with the “collective intent” of the Brand Ideal it will become the watermark of all you do.  Your team and clients will feel the difference of this greater purpose.  Just one more step in moving your company and its leaders toward exceptional.



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