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Is everything your business stands for – from your mission, vision and values, through to your service delivery – reflected in your brand outputs? The disconnect here is confusing, as jarring inevitably leads to an implicit level of mistrust. How can you trust a brand if what it says it stands for isn’t clearly actioned or reflected across everything you see and experience? And yes, we mean literally everything.

Congruency. When every point of engagement delivers the same message, that’s congruency for a brand. It matters. To illustrate the point, here’s a short tale of incongruency (to the point of silliness) between the brand promise and the brand presentation:

Our story began with a small South Australian business producing artisanal, handcrafted wines featuring unique varietals. The wine world trades on provenance, and as such, the brand story constitutes a massive piece of the puzzle. Having heard the start of this one, we were excited. It was promoted as a David and Goliath story – a boutique winery waging war against multinationals, preaching the irreplaceable value of handcrafted products and the human touch. We were on board! We loved it! We agreed (see HI Technology).

Unfortunately, the tale took a dark red turn as questionable DIY marketing kicked in. The wine was ready to bottle, and it was time for the go-to-market piece. An exciting time indeed! Perhaps the perfect time to talk to a local artist over a shiraz or two and engage a local design agency with a love of wine and an intimate understanding of packaging to share the brand vision, collaborate on creating something truly meaningful, plant the flag and cement this name in viticulture history…

No. When it came to developing the brand assets, including the wine labels – whose importance can’t be overstated when it comes to the messaging opportunity for something uniquely representative, perfectly paired with the product, and in this case, able to expand on the handcrafted, artisanal story – it all went weird. No human hand. Instead, it was loudly and proudly proclaimed that an online artificial intelligence generator was used to ‘design’ the logo and labels.

We may be sticklers for detail here, but unless Siri has been employed on her backpacking sabbatical to stomp grapes at the same place, there seems to be a dramatic disconnect here.
With the entire hand-made brand story scuttled and any semblance of honesty and authenticity in the brand promise completely dumped on, guess what? It simply made the wine leave a bad taste in your mouth in more ways than one.

Congruency. When your brand’s actions don’t match your story, you tell people not to trust you. When you do something as polarising as the example above, you go a step further. You can even force people to actively dislike your product and, in extreme cases, never forgive your brand. As Tyler Childers accurately notes in Nose on the Grindstone, “It takes twice as long to build bridges you’ve burnt.”

But, this isn’t a doom-and-gloom warning piece. Plenty of brands get it right.

One such client we worked with was hell-bent on ensuring there was no disconnect –
Pro-Player – a football academy that provides a number of support services for developing football players.

While there are many moving parts to what makes up a brand, in this instance, our first job was to help Pro-Player differentiate themselves from other similarly named businesses with a simple, rock-solid, aspirational tagline. Essentially, they needed their own “Just do it”.

So, what was their brand promise? What did they offer? Understanding that was the starting point for finding the most accurate words to help explain it.

It turned out that – much in the same way as our work at Horse & Water is about the shared responsibility between the quality of our outputs and the quality of our client’s actions and products – Pro-Player are partners in a journey. At their core, they provide intensive coaching and development pathways for aspiring footballers. What they definitely don’t do is guarantee that player a spot in the English Premier League. Instead, they promise to take a committed and active role in developing talents, providing opportunities and essentially training the hell out of said player, making sure they have the support to confidently step into the professional arena should that golden opportunity knock.

When developing their tagline, the words needed to reflect their promise of assisting people in achieving their goal and reaching their dream. However, we were particularly mindful of using phrases such as “Realise Your Dream”. Why? Because it’s simply not a promise Pro-Player could be expected to keep. Despite how talented the coaches are, how rigorous and comprehensive the training may be, or how good the opportunities of overseas exposure and travel may be, there are too many external and personal determinants that factor into whether a footballer realises their dream. Their natural talent, commitment, mental resilience, avoidance of injury and pure timing are just a few of many.

Chase Your Dream.

It’s part them, part you. It’s active, aspirational, motivational, imperative and reflects your potential future glory, yet indicates the responsibility you need to shoulder. Chase, not follow. Commit and do the work.

Pro-Player and their team of talented coaches along with their experience and amazing connections in the industry are what enable players to chase their dream of becoming a professional footballer. But it is the talent and commitment of the individual footballer that, in combination with the support and mentorship of Pro-Player, will help them get there.

Going pro isn’t the final destination of the dream either. Developing a long and successful career in football is what may follow, and so the “chase” continues. As such, the same tagline is as relevant for the player management side of the business as it is for the young ones coming up through the ranks of the football programs, goalkeeper academy and more.

Is ‘Chase Your Dream’ a promise Pro-Player can deliver on? Yes. And that they do in spades. Motivating, training, committing to players and building those young footballers up to the best they can be. Their words match their actions, and this is reflected in the consistency and professionalism of their communication, which in turn breeds belief in what they promise.

Due to this congruency, the Pro-Player brand builds trust. If they develop a new program, they won’t need to convince people of its value – those who know the brand will trust that this follows the promise they’ve been delivering all along.

Words, pictures, designs, colour palettes, illustrations, photos, EDMs, websites, posts and even simply answering the phone… Be your brand, always. Be honest. Live what you say. Just as it’s good advice for humans, it’s also critical to the ongoing life of your brand.