Archive for business strategy

In Celebration of Earth Day, this Partnership Shines a Light on New Possibilities

This year, Earth Day is more meaningful to me. Sure, I’ve observed the annual event since its inception in 1970, but this year, my work with a new client—Stracker Solar—has me more inspired than ever. Stracker Solar is a solar energy innovator and is a key player in a groundbreaking partnership that has the potential to benefit farmers, the public at large and the environment—all while supporting our collective desire to make every day “Earth Day.”

The partnership is an agrivoltaic project—using farmland for both agriculture and solar photovoltaic energy generation. With funding from a government grant, Stracker Solar, a Willamette Valley farm, and a renewable energy cooperative are testing the benefits to the three most foundational elements of modern life: food, water and energy.

Here’s a bit from the press release:

Stracker on the farm“A pioneering research project will allow Our Table Cooperative Farm, a leading advocate for sustainable farming practices, to counter the challenges of growing heat-sensitive crops like lettuce during Oregon’s increasingly hot summers by growing them under elevated, moving solar panels and reducing the water needed for irrigation. The project will supply nearly all of the farm’s energy needs and provide backup power to keep its farm store and food storage running during natural disasters.

“The project, named “Lettuce Shine, is a collaborative effort of Our Table Farm, the Oregon Clean Power Cooperative, and Oregon State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences. It is largely funded by a generous grant from Portland General Electric’s Renewable Development Fund. It will use unique pole-mounted solar panels from Ashland, Oregon-based Stracker Solar, and battery storage from Sol-Ark. Dynalectric Oregon, an electrical contractor based in Portland, will install the components.”

Lettuce Shine LogoThe project is underway and will facilitate research and educational opportunities for schoolchildren, college students, and the public at large. It’s exciting to be part of a partnership with such a wide-reaching impact. Why couldn’t there be more win-win-win partnerships? My optimism tells me there can.

As a business coach and strategist, I’m always curious about why some partnerships are more successful than others. I asked my LinkedIn network what they thought were the essential components of a successful partnership and here’s what I heard:

Shared goals, distinct roles, willingness to keep the problems separate from the personalities, clarity about who has decision rights in various domains, taking oneself lightly, a sense of humor and extending each other grace. It’s a tall order but some partnerships are 1+1=3.

So far, the Our Table partnership has lived up to these tenets. As another person commented on LinkedIn, successful partnerships must embody “Clear communication, shared goals, and trust.”

What partnerships are you involved in? Think about all aspects of your life. What is helping—or hurting—each partnership’s success?

As we reflect on Earth Day’s importance, I encourage you to consider the idea that we humans are all in partnership with each other and we are responsible for caring for our planet. Not just one day a year, but every day.

As Lady Bird Johnson once said, “The environment is where we all meet; where we all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.”

The Cinderella Fit: 5 Steps to a Better Brand

Brown Men's Shoe

Adopting a new brand shouldn’t make you feel like an ugly stepsister squishing her foot into a tiny glass slipper. Rather, you’re looking for that Cinderella fit, a thoughtful melding of truth and optimism that empowers your company to grow into its deeper self. The shoe fits, but your toes still have room to wiggle.

A few months ago, I wrote a post called Creating Your Brand from the Inside Out: Why Your Culture Comes First, which was later published in the January 2013 issue of Utah Construction & Design. In that piece, I discussed the inextricable relationship between culture and brand.

Your brand should reflect your organization’s unique genetic identity with a spritz of aspiration. You want your company to recognize itself in the mirror, but maybe looking a tad dapperly, so it straightens its posture, brushes the lint off its shoulder, and strides toward the future with vision and confidence.

How do you achieve that magical fit? As a brand development consultant, I would take these five steps to discover and unleash your organization’s brand.

1) Formulate guiding questions to illuminate core issues. Don’t think of these as literal questions posed in a survey or focus group but instead view them as headings in your final report. Some examples include:

  • What is your current brand image/reputation among target audiences and stakeholders?
  • What positive and negative associations are attached to the organization?
  • What are the major brand associations of your competitors?
  • How is your company different and better?
  • What should you strive to be?
  • What tactical brand differentiation and marketing opportunities exist?

2) Thoroughly examine the facts through a qualitative discovery process. Get an honest view of your firm’s reality by conducting a competitive analysis, quantitative data assessment, and communications audit as well as gaining an understanding of the company’s history.

3) Involve all members of the organization. Establishing a transparent, comprehensive process in which every employee feels heard is not only vital for buy-in but also ensures the brand truly reflects the company’s culture. Participants will be more invested in the process and committed to maintaining its outcomes.

4) Develop a distinctive set of “brand tools.” A brand messaging platform will focus and guide marketing and organizational decisions. It includes a positioning statement, key messages, and brand attributes. The positioning statement reflects the institutional DNA and is so unique to the organization that it cannot be applied to any other company. The key messages articulate the firm’s purpose and direction, while brand attributes comprise a list of adjectives that describe the company’s character.

Branding Sweet Spot5) Bring the brand to life. Through a targeted creative process, design a visual identity that captures the company’s personality and develop a marketing strategy that is built around your company’s “sweet spot”—the intersection of what’s important to clients, what you do very well, and what your competition is not doing. Most importantly, help your employees understand and “live” the brand in everything they do—from answering the phone to delivering a presentation to hiring a new associate. The more deeply your brand is interwoven with your culture, the easier that glass slipper will glide on—and stay.

Are you ready to uncover your unique brand? Contact me at 541.601.0114 or to find out how Capiche can help your organization crack its genetic code and chart its course for future success.