“Tidying” has taken the world by storm. Everywhere you look, people are cleaning up and paring down in accordance with the rules set down by organizational guru Marie Kondo.
Followers of Kondo’s books, blog and Netflix show are decluttering their way to better lives by 1) letting go of possessions that don’t “spark joy,” and 2) keeping the ones that do in an organized and respectful manner. After using Kondo’s method, known as KonMari, many people report feeling healthier, happier and more creative.
You can KonMari your closet, your computer and even your dating life — so why not your brand? Here’s how to do it:
1. Clear out the clutter.
With spring-cleaning season approaching, now is the time to gather and evaluate all your communications materials. Are there some you’ll never use again (or should never use again)? How about that one-off sponsorship ad or the decades-old brochure for an obscure specialty group that no longer brings in business? The newsletter created with off-brand visuals because a key rainmaker “just liked it better that way”? The longer these outliers stay around, the more likely their funky look and inconsistent messaging will creep into other communications and dilute your brand. Thank them for their service — and then let them go.
2. Go vertical.
When Kondo says it, she means storing clothes in chests instead of hanging them up. When we say it, we mean applying your brand guidelines to important vertical markets. Identify your strategic drivers by industry or customer segment and then create differentiated materials within your brand family for each vertical. Customize messaging and thought leadership around issues that matter to them. Organize your website to provide different pathways for different verticals. Need some new faces around the watercooler? Remember, recruits are a vertical market too.
Identify your strategic drivers by industry or customer segment and then create differentiated materials within your brand family for each vertical.
3. Create a place for everything.
Can you (and your website visitors) quickly find and retrieve key thought leadership pieces? Or are they buried in a long chronological scroll of news items and blog posts? That’s no way to treat your precious content! Organize them by category so your audience (even your internal one) can find them faster and use them more.
Do you keep a library of endorsements, awards or rankings? Case studies of your recent successes? According to Kondo, if you can’t find something fast, chances are you won’t use it. Having this information at your fingertips instead of stashed on random desktops companywide will help you build strong pitch materials, even on the shortest of deadlines. Gather your most powerful content, edit or rewrite it as necessary to put it in the best possible condition, and treat it to a comfortable home in a good content management system.
4. Pursue a uniform look.
KonMari recommends using specific techniques to fold shirts and socks so each piece will look the same. Consistency is your friend in branding too. Keep your basic layout, design elements, and illustration or photography style reliably the same from month to month, business line to business line. From your LinkedIn banner to your PowerPoint docs, your look, feel and messaging will gain strength through uniformity. How to achieve it? Invest in templates for communication tools you use often, like e-alerts, invitations, newsletters and PowerPoints. Make them easy to find and use in order to discourage DIY efforts by rogue executives and staff.
5. Choose joy.
Finally, take a good hard look at everything from your logo to your website and ask yourself: Does my brand spark joy? Does it spark anything? A strong brand should evoke an emotional response. If yours doesn’t, it may be time for a brand refresh. Keep the strongest elements and retool the rest for a renewed sense of excitement about your business and your brand!
Kondo says the goal of tidying is to learn to “cherish everything that you have.” Once you create a brand that you cherish, your marketing, business development and recruiting efforts will reap the rewards.