The Sword in the Stone, Excalibur, was the symbol of everything Camelot stood for. It was the axis around which every decision revolved and it embodied all the values the people held dear. And no one could remove the sword from its place except Arthur, the true and rightful king.
In business, a true and rightful king is the person with unconditional authority to say “absolutely yes” without first having to check with someone else.
Don't confuse a company's Sword in the Stone with their “unique selling proposition” or “mission statement.” It's much mightier than either of those. Unique Selling Propositions and Mission Statements are notoriously limp, missing the mark every time by asking, “What's true of our product that isn't true of our competitor's?” and “What is our mission?” A person with his hand on the Sword in the Stone isn't likely to ask silly questions at all, but rather say, “This is who we are and what we stand for. You can like it, you can lump it, or you can take it down the road and dump it, but we will forever remain who we truly are.”
Sounds like a great way to live, doesn't it? (Unless, of course, you have the backbone of a rabbit; then it sounds just plain scary. But then everything sounds scary to a rabbit.) But I digress.
Advertisers rarely abandon campaigns that revolve around their Swords in the Stone. And sword campaigns tend to perform much better than those built merely upon clever ideas. A company's Sword in the Stone embodies its core values and defines its essence, and from these flow their non-negotiable standards and their customers' positive experiences.
Does your company have non-negotiable standards? Do your employees and your customers know exactly what you stand for… and stand against? If your answers are yes, yes, yes, and yes, you may possibly have the ingredients to erect a powerful and iconic Cult Brand.
Superficiality is never attractive. Customers are attracted to the genuine, the authentic, the real. In the words of Robert Frost, “We love the things we love for what they are.” Likewise, employees take strength, stamina and joy from knowing what their company stands for.
“Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.” – Studs Terkel
What unusual policies does your company have that revolve around your Sword in the Stone? And in what Stone is your sword securely planted?
Do you have any idea what I'm talking about?
Roy H. Williams