Routinely we talk with unhappy heads’ of companies disappointed with their current brand development effort. They say things like “the brand house don’t seem to get us”, or “they seem pretty rigid in their process”. And the truly terrifying “they didn’t ask many questions, but now I have a new logo, website and social networking campaign, but no more customer traction than before”.
Sifting through the debris, inevitably we find one or more of the following:
- A highly specific, detailed, “by-the-numbers” RFP was prepared and distributed, but there was no conversations between company and brand house during proposal preparation. The vendors were left to figure out what the company wanted in a vacuum.
- The marketing department was given the directive to implement a brand development effort. The head of the company kicked it off, left marketing to their own devices for the duration, and showed up for the launch.
- Full brand development was warranted. Unfortunately the company was only willing to invest in a “re-brand” effort (a.k.a. gussied up logo and tagline). Or, the vendor failed to recognize the need (or chose not to) and a “re-brand” effort was proposed and accepted.
- There was no internal brand excavation establishing core values and ideology, or even worse, the project utilized a lofty mission that was established years ago by a team no longer on board that was never more than platitudes that didn’t clarify or compel anyone to do anything uniquely different.
- Pre-existing results from a previously aborted brand effort, “demographic-only” generalized surveys, or third-party, paid analyst statistics served as the basis of the brand excavation research.
- Project participation was limited to a small, closely held team that developed and vetted the results with limited interaction, collaboration or review by multi-disciplinary, cross-company participants.?
- Initial conversations started with “we don’t have any money”.
Fortifying our experiences, research highlights a scary reality. The Tom Peters Company interviewed 700 US businesses and found that more than 90% of professionals said that they did not understand how to effectively represent their company’s brand; 75% don’t support their company’s branding initiatives; and over 50% say they don’t even know what a brand means.
A properly led brand development project ensures demonstrable return on the investment, differentiates your company from the herd, positions you for accelerated growth, elevates marketing promotions beyond mere noise campaigns and energizes staff.
Establishing a relevant brand requires strategic forethought, diligence, focus… but most of all it requires plain old guts. The fortitude to move beyond industry parlance, operational/insiders thinking and “me-too” programs, promotions and platforms. The courage to accept a true snapshot of an evolving reality. The commitment to stand up and stand out. The long and short of it is that short cuts won’t ever get you there.