Brand Matters: The Joy of Branding
Developing and strengthening a company’s brand brings me great joy. It is at the heart of all I do with companies. Before I can help a company develop new plans, new markets, new products, new processes, new ventures or new spin-offs, I must thoroughly understand its brand.
I start, much as a potential customer might, by looking for the brand wherever I can—Internet, mailbox, retail store, etc.—and reviewing closely whatever I find. Before I even meet any of the internal brand ambassadors or employees, place an order, or experience a company’s products or services, I have developed a strong sense of what to expect. A company’s collateral materials (e.g., catalogs, Web sites, signage and general presence) give me a quick glimpse into its brand personality—warm and caring, cold and sterile, or fun and innovative—as well as its point of view or positioning. This is my first impression.
Go Beyond Adequate
Sometimes collateral materials mirror the exact brand reality the company wants to project. Other times they send out a conflicting or confusing message. Most times, though, they merely communicate the brand’s essence adequately. Many companies are satisfied just to have Web sites and catalogs to offer their customers. “Do you know how hard it was to just get these done?” they ask me. These materials almost always leave lots of room for leveraging a brand’s full potential.
Customers do not remember adequate brands. Customers do not talk about adequate brands with their friends and colleagues. Only competitors love adequate brands.
The joy of my work begins with unleashing potential. As the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “It is in the compelling zest of high adventure and of victory and in creative action that man finds his supreme joy.”
Branding work is full of both creative action and high adventure. It is the synthesis of these two elements that help brands find victory in the marketplace. Creative action begins when the chief brand manager realizes the brand’s “story” is not fully told. Pages are missing. Paragraphs and whole story lines are undeveloped. A brand “rewriting” of sorts must occur.