Brand Matters: Clean Sweep
It’s fair to say we all have a place either in our homes or offices that we hope others won’t see. Whether it’s a crammed closet, junk drawer, three-car garage with no cars in it, musty attic boxes or sagging basement shelves, we all have some place that doesn’t pass Martha Stewart muster. We have just accumulated too much stuff. Many Americans feel over-extended, overstuffed and overspent. Well, if our homes or offices can accumulate too much stuff over time, so can our brands. Brands can suffer from a case of avoirdupois, a word describing a heaviness and a ponderousness—a burden.
Our brands indeed can be burdened by too much stuff. We pile on more and more business activities. At times, our various departments go off in conflicting directions, our channels get promotion-heavy, and our profit potential gets bogged down with “good” stuff but perhaps not the best. We know that focusing on doing good things is the enemy of doing what is truly the best. But we keep doing good.
So, what are we to do? How do we air out our brands and see what we’ve got in our brand attic, closets, junk drawers and garages that no longer works for us or, more importantly, for our customers?
Summer is the season all across America for rummage sales, garage sales, tag sales. Statistics show this activity is up for 2009. I suggest brands and the people who create and manage them schedule brand review and clean up days.
Yes, you prepare for these just like you would if you were having one at your home. Yes, you have to include the boss. (Proctor & Gamble Chairman of the Board of Directors and former CEO A.G. Lafley understands his main role to “be one of deciding what business they are in and what business they are not in.”) Yes, it is a lot of work hauling out all that junk and facing bad decisions; irrelevancy; and places where the brand overspent needlessly, just totally missed the mark or forgot to get customers’ opinions on crucial decisions. But ask anyone who has had a successful garage sale recently and one of the joys she describes is letting go of all the past mistakes and saying goodbye to all the things that keep you feeling, well, very avoirdupois!
Andrea Syverson is the founder and president of creative branding and merchandising consultancy IER Partners. For 20+ years, Andrea’s joy has been inspiring clients with innovative approaches to branding, product development and creative messaging. She’s the author of two books about brand building and creating customer-centric products that enhance brands: BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants and ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.