By Jason Lankow published July 19, 2015

Spaceship Earth: How Do You Shape Your Brand?

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A strong brand means more than just chanting your differentiators, memorizing an elevator pitch, and achieving 95% success rates in trust falls.

The most forward-thinking organizations create powerful content marketing by extracting and expressing their most original thinking in a way that makes their brand more human and relatable to their audience.

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Welcome to Spaceship Earth

It’s 18 stories built with 11,324 silvered isosceles triangles.

Spaceship Earth is the symbol of Epcot Center at Walt Disney World – one of the most iconic structures in the world.

Spaceship Earth is a polyhedron. The construction and bond of each triangular facet contributes to create the unique shape and structure of the whole.

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Image source

Your brand is a polyhedron, too

Like Spaceship Earth, your brand is multisided. If you nurture it, your brand becomes a colorful, evolving creation – built by individual personalities combining their ideas and talents. These individual expressions collectively shape the outside perception of your organization.

Notice that Spaceship Earth is anchored to the ground so it won’t roll around, crushing tourists wearing socks with sandals. Your core foundational thinking anchors your brand, keeping it upright when your team is working with their heads down. 

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Your brand and culture relationship

While your brand is Spaceship Earth – the sum total of touchpoints and interactions – your culture plays both mission control and captain. Your culture is the lens through which your organization sees the world.

That shared lens can be challenged and influenced by technology disruption, new ideas and beliefs, and changes to your work environment due to co-worker dynamics, competitors, customers, legal, investors, partners, potential hires, and media. (Great googly moogly, this is hard.)

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This lens is illuminated by the foundational thinking of your organization’s vision (why are we building a spaceship and where is it going), mission (how are we getting there), and values (who do we need in the crew, and who do we need to become as people to succeed in what we’re up to?).

A well-intended mission control and a resilient captain can define and express a unified and strong foundational core. Then, make sure to give your team room to move and build unique expressions and manifestations of goodness to build out your Spaceship Earth.

Create content based on your organizational culture

By tapping into the perspectives of the people who make up your whole brand, your content will represent your brand’s deeper insights to your external audiences. Sharing your multisided facets is a great way to create more engaging content because it’s real.

Your audience doesn’t have an attention problem – they have a dilemma of choice. They gravitate toward something that is real or so ridiculously weird that it can’t possibly be real. You can keep it real (or do both).

When you extract your employees’ unique insights to create interesting and engaging content, you foster a stronger community in your orbit because they know your brand stands for something and want to be a part of what you are building.

When your organization’s actions and beliefs are authentic, your content becomes increasingly powerful to establish trust and loyalty.

How to get started

Some people will want to be a visible triangle in your Spaceship Earth and some won’t – that’s OK, as everyone doesn’t need to be a content creator. Here’s how to get cracking:

  1. Establish who is responsible for driving and owning your culture content marketing initiative.

Ideally, it should be employees who care about the company’s purpose and the reason the company exists. They can identify the different facets of your organization and put together a strong narrative arc.

  1. Identify employees who are willing to share their perspective.

Uncover the most interesting and original stories from unlikely places in your organization. For example, put together some dynamic duos, such as a data scientist working with a designer to craft a visual, data-based piece, or your content marketing manager collaborating with the research team to publish a benchmark index from your most interesting data.

  1. Develop a reliable content-creation system.

Let’s say you want your director of engineering to share her perspective. Writing for hours may not be the best use of her time. Make it easy for her to create content by collaborating to structure her ideas in an outline, then interview her.

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Keep your in-house content creation efforts on the rails (and your Spaceship Earth team grounded) by checking out Duct Tape Marketing’s simple and actionable editorial calendar and Kapost’s template for an editorial style guide.

Summary

The shape of your brand is a representation of what is beneath the surface. Think about your brand’s story – what can you create as an authentic representation? When your content marketing expresses your brand’s core, your audience will appreciate the authenticity, be engaged more with your content, and strengthen their trust in your brand. Only then can your Spaceship Earth truly fly.

Want to learn more about establishing your content marketing strategy and structuring your team for more effective content marketing. Read CMI’s e-book: Building the Perfect Content Marketing Mix: Top Priorities for 2015.

Cover image by Siyan Ren, Unsplash, via pixabay.com

Author: Jason Lankow

Jason Lankow is the CEO/co-founder of Visage and co-founder of Column Five. He teaches Visualization of Information at Columbia University. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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  • Jennie Reid

    Jason, this is a creative portrayal of building a brand. “Your brand is Spaceship Earth-the sum total of touchpoint and interactions – your culture plays both mission control and captain.”
    Now I want to go to Spaceship Earth and enjoy my newfound perspective!
    I’m building a brand for #rugby and definitely realize the points you made in your article are certainly applicable and successful.

    • jasonlankow

      Thanks, Jennie! It’s really exciting when you choose one key audience segment, and then ideate from one of your strongest components of your core thinking. For example, in my other company, Column Five, we chose to create a gift for clients, and used one of our values (Be Good to Each Other) as the sole basis of the creative. Here is the result: http://www.howdesign.com/design-business/design-news/be-good-to-each-other-illustrations/

      As you can see, the culture can be implicit (we didn’t just write the words in huge letters, but they are the undercurrent of the creative concept). Of course, you can do some really cool things by explicitly stating different pieces of your foundational thinking (or the entirety), but you could eventually get repetitive.

      I think you could do some really powerful content by looking to the traditions, DNA and impact of the game of rugby, and also by looking at your key value of collaboration.