Two well-known brand strategists engaged in a conversation on Twitter yesterday that caught my attention. Olivier Blanchard, The BrandBuilder and Gabriel Rossi were discussing some of the problems companies have, in their opinion, with marketing and branding.
Gabriel said “People who criticize Marketing & Branding need to learn to see the value of brands as a powerful socio-economic force“, and Olivier’s response was like a glass of cold water in the face: “… as opposed to looking at Marketing and Branding as the discipline of putting together ads, brochures and mailers.”
I’ve worked with so many companies on branding and marketing and that is what I do for them. In fact they often hire me because I am a “big picture” person who can help define and create the vision for the tangible brand, and then backtrack and execute the myriad of details to make it a reality. That has been my role, but I know that while appearance and physical materials are critical components of a successful branding effort, they are only the uppermost layer.
So often, my personal experience with companies is that we are focused on the appearance and business strategy and deals, but we don’t have time to go deep into the heart and soul of the brand and find ways to expose and communicate that. This problem reminds me of an artichoke, and I have slapped together a graphic here to try to demonstrate what I’m talking about…
The heart of a brand, like that of an individual, is vulnerable. It must be both soft enough to prove genuine caring, and strong enough to withstand scrutiny and adversity. But it is your core offering – not your products and services – and if you aren’t in touch with and know what’s in the heart, establishing lasting relationships with customers will be difficult or hit and miss. Do you want a shallow relationship with the people that interact with your brand, or a sympathetic bond that can withstand conflicts?
There are not enough hours in the day – I am all too aware of this, as I often find the bulk of my day being spent on putting out fires, or trying to take advantage of a new opportunity. It’s no wonder, between meetings, presentations, adminstration, lead generation, chasing down dollars owed and creating new content that digging very deep beneath the surface just does not seem to happen. In fact, I had to write this blog post over lunch and was not really present at the table with people, or it wouldn’t have happened. This happens to a lot of us, every day. Too many great ideas, lots of drive, but just not the time or resources to make it all happen now.
But we all need to try to carve out the time to make sure we are in touch with what matters most. Engaging people from the heart of your brand, being vulnerable and forging true and lasting customer relationships, is what will keep companies alive and thriving, through good times and bad times.
I want to thank my personal brand experts on Twitter for giving me great food for thought – not just yesterday, but quite often. The realization is one thing… figuring out what to about it, is a task for another day!