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The business of Brand: Don’t risk being all Back-to-Front!

In this heartfelt blog, David Savidan reflects on his mother's enduring wisdom about financial responsibility and how it inspired him to rethink his approach to spending, ultimately leading to a transformative investment in himself and his brand.

“Watch the pennies, and the pounds will follow”. It’s a statement I’ve carried since my teenage years. Always the same voice ringing in my ears. My mother’s. Spoiler alert, it’s advice that for a long time I never followed. Always too gung-ho, says my mother! But it’s always worked out ok for me. So why would I change? To be honest, I could never see any reason to. Until Covid. Until that point, I could always reason it in my favour; I work to live, I like being social, I work hard so once I’ve covered the family budget and paid my mortgage, I can afford to buy something new, or go on holiday. That’s it. I’ve justified it! Having emerged from Covid with a healthier bank balance than pre-lockdown I, like many of you, started to become deeply worried about NZ’s economic future and the huge increase in levels of government spending which seemed, so obviously, to be a future noose around the necks of our children and grandchildren. So, I started to think differently. To make a choice. Between reverting back to type or making a real change. A change in me, for me. To deliver better outcomes for me! Fast-forward to today, two weeks out from this next, generation-defining, election, I now view my mother’s advice, a by-product of her spending the first five years of her life in the air raid shelters of WW2 London, rather differently. In these times of economic struggle, I now see this change of approach as an investment, a down-payment on a better way of life. On a more authentic purpose, an attainment of a better equilibrium for myself and my family. Of course we now live in a world of dollars and cents, but Mum’s words are no less valuable. Today, whether it be in our personal lives or in our workplaces, our constant focus is on stretching those ever-tightening budgets even further. All of a sudden I think back to my mother’s go-to war cry for getting ahead. I never felt I could compromise. I didn’t want to go without, and I certainly didn’t want to be told what to do and how to operate. How wrong I was. I was complacent, and I was compromising! I was living in the moment rather than planning for the future.

“The Ugly Truth of it was that I had it all Back to Front!”

Now I view my mother’s message as one about spending wisely and laying better foundations in my life – in other words, really getting ahead! Yes, I still spend, I’ve just changed the ‘how I do it’ bit. My first investment was in myself, my brand if you like. As a person, a husband, a father and a son, as a friend and as a productive worker. I took the time to find ‘me’. This became a story not about spending less, but about spending better. My brand is unique to me and no one else, so as I lay a stronger set of foundations, every aspect of my world has benefited. Much like the decision a business makes when deciding when and how to invest in its brand. “So what’s your down-payment?”, as my mother would say. Have you stopped to consider if you have it all back-to-front? And is that stopping you really getting ahead? Is that investment in your new factory, an extra sales person, a new product, or a fab new social or digital campaign the best use of your hard earned profits? Or should you first consider the benefit of finding your authentic truth? Your Brand Why? as I like to call it. And this is where the rubber meets the road. Do you believe your view is enough? Or could an outside-view-in better help you find your Brand Why? Which is often where the conversation stops. I know my business. I understand my brand better than anyone else. No one knows my competitors better than me. Why would I spend my money on this stuff, let’s just execute. Just like I thought I knew better than my mother! What I’m suggesting is that this dialogue is not about whether you can do it well and be successful. Of course you can! It’s about whether you can do it better, with outside help? The opportunity cost, if you like, of only relying on your view could be dollars left on the table?

The questions I would ask are “Can your future success be greater? Can you spend differently to really get ahead?”

It’s a decision to be made around whether you can better optimise your effort, your dollars. Rather than solely future-proofing your business, why not also future-seek a better multiplier. In my view, a better formed brand adds extra layers of value that help amplify the growth of future investment. Because in five years instead of being an $X sized brand (you insert the value here that’s relevant to your business), how much bigger could your business be if you make the decision to engage outside help to develop a more distinctive vision for your ‘you’? Because when all is said and done, by investing properly in your brand upfront, you’re telegraphing your intention. And that sets you up for really getting ahead. Because you know where you’re heading. And all the hard earned profits you then spend after that go to a more targeted purpose. That’s front-to-back, not back-to-front! And that’s when I think about my mother’s advice. Yes, it's a story about spending wisely! But really, it’s a story about not being all back to front! Thanks Mum x

Written by David Savidan, an Auckland-based growth consultant specialising in sales & marketing. Email: davsav235@gmail.com



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