A question we often ask clients to gain insights into their brand is, “If you were a car, what make and model would it be?” This not only offers a window to their self perception but does so in a way that forces them to think differently about themselves, often with revealing results. Recently we have taken to augmenting the scope of the question to be open-ended and more cultural, less product-specific.
If your company were a band, which one would it be?
The answers have proven to be quite provocative, often revealing internal fissures particularly when posed to a group of partners. Heated debates over the relative merits of the Who versus the Stones have ensued in our conference room (ie, “We're edgy but not not 'trash the hotel room' edgy).
With shifts in our business culture moving faster than the demise of the compact disc, I'm thinking of reframing the question yet again: If you were a band where would you like to be in three years? A lot can change in that amount of time. The mop top Beatles of 1964 singing “I'm Happy Just to Dance With You” were worlds apart from the eastern influenced hippies of the White Album. In 1989 Nirvana was just a local Seattle bar band. Three years later they were arguably the biggest band in the world. Two years after that they were done, leaving a legion of fans in mourning and a powerful catalog of music.
What band would you like to be and where do you see yourself playing? Would you like to be at Shea Stadium playing to 60,000 fans or at a more intimate venue like the Chicago Theater? Fully amped or unplugged? If you don't think about what you would like to be, it's a safe bet you won't have much control over where you are going to be.