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Brand This.

Four days off and I feel like I owe you all something remarkable. Four days off and I feel laziness oozing its way into my routine, and as much as I hate this, I find myself taking to it rather easily. So apologies if this isn’t the best of postings. But I’ll try to make it up to you by posting two articles.

Cheers to quantity over quality.

Over the last seven months a colleague and I have been working our asses off trying to launch a web site. I won’t tell you what it is or what it will do, just believe me when I say (hyperbole alert) that it will change the way you think about the Internet. Long story short, the thing will be awesome.

Anyway, as he and I have been working through this process we’ve been forced (like all responsible business folk) to answer some pretty fundamental questions regarding the nature of our business and essence (I hate that word) of its brand.

Branding is, in my mind, one of the most exciting facets of advertising and marketing because to identify and develop a brand’s soul requires the creative, big picture thinking I’m a huge fan of. Done right, proper branding makes everything else that much easier. Done wrong, the brand stands no chance. And while you would think that every brand manager and marketing exec would be acutely aware of the importance of branding, you’d be surprised by how many educated marketing managers think branding involves nothing more than a logo and snappy tagline.

Of course that could explain why there are so few strong brands out there.

Strong brands resonate. They cultivate brand loyalty and as a result are capable of enduring recessions, management changes, competition and scandal. So why don’t more marketing managers hold their brands to higher standards? I’m sure they do. I’m sure that if you were to talk to any brand manager that has a job, they will tell you that their brand is doing it right; that theirs is one of the good brands. What they won’t tell you is that they are full of crap.

There are so few great brands in the world because few brand managers have the courage to trust their agency partners to move forward with the fearless creative thinking required to create such a brand. Make no mistake; I’m not saying that agencies are the sole reason great brands exist. Indulgent creative that serves no strategic purpose accomplishes nothing. Rather, it is the combination of brilliant, strategic creative and courageous brand management. Unfortunately, such combinations are few and far between. 

Perhaps the most time consuming process we’ve encountered was that of branding our company. You may think that aligning your brand’s identity with its aspirations would be relatively simple. In many ways, it should be. However, to actually do so is much more difficult. It is so hard to resist wanting to be everything to everyone. Hell, why would you not want to be? After all, just think how much money Everyone can spend. Of course, as every marketing under-grad can tell you, trying to be everything to everyone ensures your brand will be nothing to no one.

If only more brand managers would realize this.

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