18 April 2006

Brand as an option?

I have been working with corporate identity and branding for many years. Much of that time is as a consultant. In introductory meetings I am usually looking for indicators that I will not be wasting my time and a customer’s money. I love a challenge, but I am looking for the potential for an eventual win-win scenario. There are a couple of indicators that tell me a company is either a lost cause (no client potential) or are a perfect fit (great prospect as someone I can help). Some times, however, these two indicators are difficult to distinguish as lacking potential. Here they are:

Number 1) “Management doesn’t like it when we talk about brand.” Version 2 is “we really don’t believe in branding here.” Honestly, I have actually heard this from marketing professionals in publicly traded and fortune 500 companies on multiple occasions. Please listen carefully if you have said this yourself. You have a brand, but you are likely not remotely influencing it to your advantage. It does exist, unless you are invisible (you may in fact be hoping for this right now), so be conscious of it, measure it, and deal with it. Head in sand has never, nor will ever be a good strategy for branding?

Number 2) “Our brand is described in detail, right here in the manual.” Ok, this is important… your actual brand is not any book! It is probably not even a part of your vision. It is in your customer’s and your non-customer’s heads. And, you will have to work very hard, and very smart to shape that brand. If you have not measured your brand from a customer centric perspective, it will be very difficult to move it to a favorable position. You cannot will a brand favorable.