Are you what you do or are you what you believe?
This is a basic question when it comes to branding and it confuses many companies.
In most cases, brand stories aren't about what you do, they're about what you believe and the WHY behind what you do.
Less successful brands often get caught up talking to themselves and are so ingrained in their day-to-day that they cannot see the forest for the trees. They focus on the details of products or services they are delivering instead of standing back and looking at how they are impacting the lives of their customers.
Brands that are beloved and successful get this. They were either born with a clear mission or belief behind them, or understood what it would take to genuinely change their business to embrace one. Few companies can do the latter. It's much easier to start with the former.
And yet, so many companies struggle because they want to beat the competition that is LIVING their beliefs from its products to how it treats employees and all the way through to customer service. The best brands infuse their beliefs completely through their business in such a seamless way that it appears effortless.
But like a good concept, it starts at the core with a strong premise, and building off of it. Scale doesn't happen without challenges, and along the way, tough choices (financial, philosophical, etc.) need to be made to maintain that WHY.
Often "the brand" gets lost when a company goes public or the founder(s) leave. That vision and WHY disappear and often mean a drop in sales or struggle for maintaining the passionate customer base. When ONLY the bottom line is worshiped, brands will have problems with being successful.