Culture Chat Podcast Interview with ‘Beyond Sizzle’ Author Mona Amodeo
In the latest episode of the Culture Chat podcast, I spoke with Mona Amodeo, author of the new book “Beyond Sizzle: The Next Evolution of Branding.” She’s the owner of IDGroup, a Pensacola, Florida, firm that focuses on brand transformations.
We talked about why organizations need to brand from their core and how to get past disruption to find the meaning people are looking for. Here are a few highlights from our conversation.
Culture Isn’t Just an Academic Idea
Amodeo says her interest in writing her book dates back to 2004, when she spent an entire year embedded with Interface, a global carpet manufacturer in Atlanta. The company’s leader had succeeded in transforming its culture from what he called “Plunderer of the Earth” to becoming one of the leading voices on sustainable manufacturing.
“I became very interested in this alignment between the internal sense of identity — ‘Who are we, what are we doing and why should anybody care?’ — and the external image of the organization,” Amodeo says.
In the nearly 15 years since, she has worked with clients to codify and define this process of aligning an organization’s values and purpose, then using that to connect with customers around the creation of a brand.
“So this book was written to translate academic ideas, a lot of research, to practical applications that people could implement on a day-in-day-out basis, hopefully to create more productive and more meaningful organizations,” Amodeo says.
Turning Values into a Real Connection
Amodeo advocates for “branding from the core,” which involves making connections with customers and employees through the values that define the organization.
“If we really think in terms of a brand, a brand basically is a perception. It's the meaning people associate with who a company is, what it does and why anybody should care,” she says.
“Branding from the core focuses on helping organizations connect people both inside and outside of the organization around core values, core beliefs and the core purpose of the organization. It is the emotional glue, if you will, that holds an organization together, and meaningful and authentic connections with people who are important to the success of the organization.”
It’s essentially the opposite of the “Mad Men” era, when branding was more about putting the “sizzle” out there to sell the latest, greatest products. The only connection most people cared about during the Golden Age of advertising was making the sale.
Getting Past Disruption to Meaning
People encounter so many disruptions in their industries and daily lives these days, Amodeo says, that what they really crave is impact. To achieve that, companies need to build purpose into their organization that’s centered on something greater than just making a good product.
“People are looking for meaning. We live in a pretty disconnected world where we're kind of spun off in a whole bunch of different places, and we're looking for places where we believe we can make a difference,” she says.
Amodeo says the marketplace wants to be connected to companies that stand for something and stand behind what their values are. “They’re not just interested in spin.”
When “companies can really engage people in feeling that they’re making a difference, not just today but beyond their lifetime, when you know that you buy a product or a service from someone and that company is trying to leave the world a little bit better than they found it, I believe that those are the companies that are going to win,” Amodeo says.