The DNA of something. The Essence of something. The Heart. The Soul. The Why. That which the “whole” is derived from. By definition:
“The fundamental and distinctive characteristics or qualities of someone or something, especially when regarded as unchangeable.”
I think of it as an origin story for a person or a company. How and why something came to be and what it is now for. The root ingredients or starting point might come from a mix of emotion and adversity. We might hear words like “grit” and “change through innovation.” However you want to think of it, whatever it is for a brand, the DNA can be identified and so well defined that everyone at every level knows what it is and can easily talk about it. When the DNA or “story” is defined in this way, it can be better realized and actualized by others. Everyone- from a summer intern to an executive or most public face of the organization knows the story. You could tap any of them on the shoulder and they could tell it to you. They can say it in an elevator ride up to the 7th floor or the 32nd. They could tell it over a quick drink, or through extended conversation. If they all know the story, and why it is, they can better sell it and spread the word about it. It doesn’t even matter if they agree with the story, they should still know it. Those that do might become living, breathing examples of it. Disciples and even evangelical about it. They’ll help tell the story the way good stories are retold.
“The DNA is the first thing and the last thing.”
The essence of the brand DNA will exist through all the places you might encounter the brand’s product or message. A brochure. An Instagram caption. A tweet. A two min facebook video or 30 sec TV commercial. A hashtag. Doesn’t matter. Everywhere you go, there it is. The DNA. The essential ingredients. The source. The highest point on the mountain from which water is fetched far downstream.
The DNA might be so well ingrained and distributed, it could be registered at mere a glance, imprinting on us visually. Whether we know the whole story or not, the traces of the source are there in the context of the words and imagery. It can translate through things like product photography or packaging and more directly through a tag line or press release. Wherever the brand is, the DNA lives. It is not exclusive. It’s inseparable and always present. And not just in the marketing collateral, but in its people too if carried out well. It can literally be in the air and in the energy of its representatives and work culture, and further shared with the audience of customers and followers with whom it hopes to serve.
DNA is the first thing and the last thing. When the AI robots take over someday and clean up the crime scene, the last thing they’ll scrape off is the essence of all that it ever was. Until then, let’s build the strongest DNA and story we can!