4 Reasons Why Your Brand Must Stand For Something
Updated: Jan 31
Every Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people across America woefully drive past Chick-fil-A restaurants wishing the fast-food chain were open so they could pull up and purchase one of their favorite meals. Unfortunately, for those fans of the franchise—purchasing a meal at the restaurant on a Sunday likely will always remain just that…a wish.
That’s because the company’s founder, Truett Cathy, made it a company policy to close Chick-fil-A restaurants on Sundays to honor his Christian faith. “Closing our business on Sunday, the Lord’s day, is our way of honoring God and showing our loyalty to him.” Cathy wrote in his book, “Eat Mor Chikin: Inspire More People.”
According to Businessinsider, the average Chick-fil-A location generates about $8.1 million in sales each year. In comparison, the average McDonald’s location in North America generates about $4 million in sales every year. By far, Chick-fil-A generates more sales revenue per unit than any other QSR chain in the United States. So, just imagine how much more sales revenue the franchise would generate if it were to open on Sundays.
By taking their stance—Chick-fil-A loses over $1 billion in sales every year. Here’s four reasons why that stance is so worth it and why your brand must also stand for something.
1. It provides focus and direction
Have you ever seen a boat floating in the ocean in one spot? The only reason why that boat doesn’t move forward or backward is because underneath it—an anchor is preventing it from doing so.
Well, when it comes to your brand—standing for something is similar to a boat’s anchor—it helps prevent your brand from drifting all over the place. Which allows everyone within your organization to stay focused on your brand’s mission and what makes it so special.
“An unfocused brand is one that’s so broad that it doesn’t stand for anything.” Writes author Marty Neumeir, in his book, The Brand Gap. “A focused brand—by contrast, knows exactly what it is; why it’s different, and why people want it.”
Brands that make it a point to stand for something will always have an edge over those that don’t simply because taking a stance provides brand identity for consumers, as well as creative direction for everyone that becomes associated with the brand to follow.
2. To connect with a tribe
When brands like Chick-fil-A decide to implement brand anchors in which they stand for—they do so knowing that in all likelihood—they’ll relinquish a great deal of sales along with customers whose values do not align with their brand’s stance on certain issues.
However, the upside of a brand standing for something far outweighs any downside. Even in the case of Chick-Fil-A—whose stance on not operating on Sundays cost the company billions of dollars in sales over the years.
The reason why is simple—no brand will ever please everyone. Therefore, attempting to do so would be futile. Instead, take a position on something for which your brand will stand for. Then, connect that position to a small group of like-minded people whose values would align with it—and they’ll go on to become your brand’s tribe members.
“Leaders lead when they take positions, when they connect with their tribes, and when they help the tribe connect to itself.” States author Seth Godin, in his book, Tribes.
To position your brand as the leader of a tribe full of adoring customers—your brand must first stand for something. Not only that, the brand must also articulate what it stands for to those most likely to embrace it.
3. For publicity purposes
Headquartered in Berkeley, California, Perfect Day is a startup that specializes in producing animal-free milk protein products. Dissatisfied by the lack of dairy alternatives—the brand’s founders, Isha Datar, Ryan Pandya, and Perumal Gandhi created their startup to solve that problem.
Their brand’s mission was simple—do its part in making the world healthier by replicating everything that was great about milk protein—but do so in a way that doesn’t involve animals.
Once word got out about the brand’s mission—the founders were bombarded with fan mail from people around the world that yearned for animal-free dairy. Not only that, reporters from around the world also began to write positive pieces about the startup (which initially went by the name Muufri, until it was changed to Perfect Day in 2016, after a study showed cows produced more milk when listening to the song “Perfect Day," by Lou Reed).
The startup received so much good press that—as of today, Perfect Day has received over $750 million in funding according to reports. None of which would’ve happened had the brand not stood for its cause to make the world a healthier place.
4. It precedes any product
Off the top of your head, could you name which Apple product sold the most units? Probably not (hey, there’s people that work at Apple that probably couldn’t answer that question).
But what fans of Apple—as well as its employees—all could answer is what the brand stands for. Which according to Steve Jobs, is, “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.”
Regardless of how great the latest Apple iPhone or iPad may be—fans of Apple connect with the brand based on what it stands for and how that makes them feel on an emotional level. Which elicits their excitement towards the brand’s products.
As author and brand leadership expert Denise Lee Yohn, writes in her book, What Great Brands Do, “We humans are emotional creatures. We make our purchase decisions based on how products promise to make us feel. That’s why great brands succeed by seeking emotional connections with customers.”
When your brand stands for something—it fosters an emotional relationship for consumers that also hold that same vision of the world to commit to. And as a result—they’ll be far more likely to purchase your brand’s products or services.