Tag Archives: brand

Who needs a Brand Coach?

If you have not heard much about brand coaching up until now, it would not be surprising.

I have been a brand consultant for many years, working with many companies and implementing many new brand and communication strategies. In the past, companies and managing directors were in a hurry to outsource their identity and branding needs – let the experts do it, they would say.

That was fine by me!

Today, however, the world looks very different. Business is different. And the way people look at their business needs has changed dramatically. Today CEOs, startup managers, entrepreneurs, and marketing graduates have all had a taste of the freedom of self-help. Continue reading

How to Sell Your Brand

When you want your brand to sell, consider first what branding will not do for you

Branding is not about selling.

Branding is about attraction, about creating affinities, and about earning a place in the hearts of your consumer. At best, we want people to feel very personally about their brands. We want them to feel like their Pumas, their Alfa Romeos, their Crest toothpastes, and their Lavazza coffees are integral parts not only of their lives but an expression of their personalities.

Branding is first your consumer’s identity, then the product’s.

This having been said, a brand is also a product and has to be sold. If no one is out there buying your brand, it means that you do not have a brand that people like. Easy. People do not like it (or worse still – people do not even know about it) and therefore they buy something else. And therefore, you start working on your CV and thinking about a career in waiting tables.

The title of this chapter, I will now tell you, is therefore based on a wrong premise. It should not be How to Sell a Brand but rather How People will Buy a Brand. It is a subtle difference but the difference is everything.

I will also tell you, while we are on the subject that you should never try to sell your brand.

The Art of Selling

In a sense, everything must be sold.

Manufacturers sell products to wholesalers. Wholesalers sell products to distributors. Distributors sell products to consumers. But we also sell ideas and opinions. We sell plans and strategies. In each case, one person is expounding more or less eloquently on the price, features and benefits of something and attempting to convert the listener. The conversion is a transactional process, at the end of which the buyer either shells out his money, changes his mind, or commits his time and effort. One person sells. One person buys.

Marketing spends a lot of time to understand as much as they can about what leads up to sales. They specifically target a certain group of potential clients as being the most likely to buy, based in most cases on mind-numbing rows and columns of numbers and statistics. They will check the age, gender, jobs, incomes, locations, marital status, ethnicity, nationality, religious affiliations, and many other demographic details. They will look at buying patterns, money spent on what kind of products in what retail outlets and when. They will check on lifestyles, hobbies, interests. The marketing people will examine the consumer to death by demographic, psychographic, behavioral, and geographic information until ideal consumers drip out of the small end of the funnels and a target group is formed.

They then work on how to make people in that target group decide to buy their product. The group may spend up to $3.50 on toothpaste, but may balk at paying more than $10.00 for a bottle of wine. They may like to shop in supermarkets better than corner shops. They may be willing to travel up to 10 miles to get to a mall every week but never travel 12 to get to a bigger one. Marketers will hone consumer profiles to a very fine point. Their job is to ensure that all the conditions are perfect for pushing a sale.

Then comes the critical moment. This is the moment when the consumer is faced with a pair of tube socks at the exact right price, in the exact place where they love to shop, and even at the right height on the shelf so as to be in their fields of vision – and they walk on by. They will not even look. They fail to react according to the numbers.

This happens all the time and that is also why marketing-driven companies like Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, and Mondelēz play the game of large numbers and volumes. With many products available in many places and at many price points, they still manage to rope in a massively large number of consumers who will hand over their money for Tide, Rexona, and Ritz crackers every day. The names are familiar, the prices are familiar, and the consumer – by eliminating other choices in a heuristic process – gravitates to them.

The whole process of sales and marketing is a push, pushing the consumer into the decision to buy. It is posited on the idea that if you know enough and act on the information, the consumer will decide to buy your product without thinking too much about it. It is a process of manipulating needs and desires while constantly pushing your product to the front of the line so that it will be chosen.

But none of this is branding.

The Power of Attraction

Branding is the opposite effect. It is not a push, but rather it is a pull. The brand will pull people toward it, attract people to it because it corresponds with who they are and how they see themselves in the world. Branding does not seek to sell – it seeks to have meaning and significance to consumers. Of course, once we identify with a brand as being the one for us, we will buy it – but that is just a natural movement and secondary consideration. The primary consideration for any brand is to mean something to the consumer as an individual and to acquire a place in his or her life.

The brand buys people.

Before you take this sentence into a board meeting and watch all of the finance, sales, and marketing people roll their eyes in disbelief, a little more explanation is required. We are in business to make money, right? We invest in manufacturing our Doo-Dads so that people will buy them, right? And now you are saying that we need to spend money to buy customers for our Doo-Dads?

A brand is a mix of different elements that are combined together to form a specific identity. This is not the identity of the product but of the consumer. And when the consumer is evaluating a purchase, he or she is not really looking at all of the manipulative tricks that marketing has prepared for them. They will be looking to see if it is a brand that resonates with them, that they would be proud to buy, that they would happily display or talk about or recommend. Contrary to popular belief, price is not dispositive in these decisions. People simply do not always buy the cheapest product in every category just because it is cheap.

We have to feel a kind of attraction to a brand, an attraction that is not dissimilar from that which we feel for certain people in friendships or in romances. Part of this attraction – and this is equally true with people, unfortunately – is the judgment on appearances. We swipe left or right based on a quick visual of the brand or person. In this way, brands must pay close attention to the colors they use, the fonts they employ, the packaging they choose, and the slogans they repeat. The attractiveness of the visuals, in fact, is a function of how well they conform to our expectations.

Imagine if you will a bright orange package with garish circus-like lettering across the front. In the top right is a big red star showing the price emblazoned in giant numbers. On the bottom left is a cartoon figure of a man with a preternaturally large smile pasted across his cartoon face. We can see it on the shelf from nearly 300 feet. It calls attention to itself. We can hardly avoid going to check it out just because it is so loud as not be ignored. So we approach the shelf with confidence to see what the fuss is all about. And it is a package of condoms.


Even the most permissive of societies and most open-minded of consumers consider the purchase of condoms as a kind of intimate act. Packaging that cries out for us to see it is at odds with our expectations. We expect to see a smaller, more discrete package. We also expect to see more subdued colors, such as blues, burgundies, or violets. Such colors evoke romantic settings and moods. Bright oranges and reds are more public colors. An illustration of an ecstatically happy man, while potentially having the virtue of being a true reflection of using the product (one hopes!), is not how we see ourselves buying the product. Some people may still feel somewhat sheepish about buying condoms, others more comfortable with it, but in the majority of cases, it is not something that we want to announce to our fellow shoppers or the check-out clerk.

We just want to buy them. We do not really need to tell the people in line behind us, “Hey, I am planning to have sex!”

In this somewhat extreme case, the brand has fully mismanaged the consumer’s expectations for the visuals. Many people may laugh and move past the circus-brand condoms, but some may still buy them out of a sense of fun. Surprise or irreverence or shock may be values that this company wants to get across. One of the brand’s underlying values may be to demystify sex and to promote safe and healthy attitudes toward it. The slogans that we read could be all about making the purchase of condoms a reflex – like the 1980s American Express advertising campaign: “Don’t leave home without it.”

Suddenly, the garish orange pack of condoms has a sense and a reason. There is more behind the surprising packaging than a need to call attention and try to sell more. This company is making a statement about social responsibility and public health.

Ah, ok…

In the next days and weeks, we start seeing banner ads and billboards – in the same loud colors and big print – for the condom brand. We see it on television and as an advertisement on dating apps and then nightclub sites and then on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We start to read articles talking about how brave this company is to take on a social taboo and make it their own. We read blogs that praise them.

Later, the brand launches a campaign for smart behavior concerning sex and distributes little orange pins that say “SAFE” in stenciled red letters. Celebrities are seen with the pins at award ceremonies.

The condom brand that startled us a few weeks ago in the shop is now the biggest selling brand in the nation. Other manufacturers jump on the bandwagon and try to lighten the tone of their brand communications. The messages we are getting from all side – that sex should be both fun and safe – all originated with one brand that dared to be different.

That is the power of attraction. This brand presented an entire personality to consumers, not just an unexpected visual, and the result was that consumers began to rally behind a brand that represented both themselves and the way they wanted to be perceived. Buying the condom brand showed that they were not just thinking of themselves, that sex was not a dirty thing not to talk about and to be overly discrete about.

That one need not whisper about buying condoms.

Branding is a process and takes time. In the same way as people do not become our best friends from the first handshakes and hellos, so it is with getting to know a brand. It is important to realize that this is a long game. We need to get to know about a brand, to test it, to hear about it from people we know, and to see it around. The more this happens, the more the brand’s personality gets showcased and the more it can become attractive.

It does not happen overnight, but when it does, sales surely follow.



Website-less in Cyberspace

Branding and Your Website

Labrador has no website Since 1993, there has been a small and steady footwear manufacturer in Zemun whose rise to recognition has been less than meteoric. It is a boutique shoemaker, designing for both men and women, and bringing out new and interesting models each season. Reasonably priced and attractive, this brand should be taking the country, the region, and maybe even the world by storm.

But you will not find them on the web.

Labrador Shoes. Ask anyone around me and you will see that I have been puzzling about this brand for at least two years. I am puzzled by the strategy. I am puzzled by the existence of a website address that has nothing behind it (for at least two years). Worse still, it also shows a Wrong websiteweb address that belongs to another company! I am puzzled by the shoemaker’s ambitions and goals. Are they only interested in Belgrade? Only Serbia? Is there a reason? All things that this inquiring mind wants to know.

Labrador has a Facebook page, adorned with lovely photos of the shoes, listing retail outlets, but not referring us to any kind of headquarters. Perhaps they have the market they want. Perhaps they are happy with organic growth – after all, they have been in business now for 24 years even if I only discovered them relatively recently. Clearly, there is a reason for it. I would very much like to understand it.

It makes me think a lot more about the nature of today’s brand and business environments. There was a day when having a shop on Main Street was your ticket in. You opened your doors, you had a listing in the Yellow Pages, you perhaps took out a few ads in local papers, and Voilà! You’re a brand!


In those days, no one could imagine a low-cost vehicle that placed you immediately in front of the entire known world. Dependence on word-of-mouth was high and, if supplemented by advertising, would be just about all you could do to get your brand out there and understood. Brands were built more slowly before the Internet: people grew to love them over time, with experience, and by testimonials.

Fast-forward to today, however, and the story is completely different. People use the web as a first resource in learning about products and brands, and even people. How many times has someone mentioned a name in a meeting and you have Googled them? Or checked them out on LinkedIn? We have developed an info-reflex that we trust more than our own brains and memories.

In this environment, it is a mystery to me how a company like Labrador – ostensibly a brand that wants to sell and wants to win hearts and minds – can be happy not having a working website.

Sine Qua Non

The reality is that a website is all but indispensible. You may not use it to sell your brand online, but it is a showcase for your brand and its messages. All the stories, the values, and the character of your brand can come out of your website. It encompasses all the value of word-of-mouth marketing in one place.

From the days before a websiteVery importantly, having a website is a legitimizer. A company without a website will not be taken as seriously as one that does. A business that only uses social media could be regarded as “cheap” or untrustworthy. Just like the Yellow Pages once was, when you can set up a website for the price of a good meal, it makes people wonder why you do not have one.

But a word of warning – your website must also be good. Since everyone else is out there online, you have to cut through the dross of bad content and poor resolution photos. You must make your website into your Brand Ambassador, always dressed for the occasion. Writing for the Entrepreneur, Tim Knox puts it nicely:

“It’s actually better to have no website at all than to have one that makes your business look bad. Your site speaks volumes about your business. It either says, ‘Hey, look, we take our business so seriously that we have created this wonderful site for our customers!’ or it screams, ‘Hey, look, I let my 10-year-old nephew design my site. Good luck finding anything!’”

– Tim W. Knox, Entrepreneur

Cyberspace, once a word reserved for Sci-fi films, is now the place where our businesses live. We owe it to ourselves and our brands to give them life and fill them with everything necessary to get to know us.

Being without a website in cyberspace is just not an option.





René Magritte, Les Valuers Personnelles

Branding: It’s Only Human

Do you talk to your cat?

As humans, we tend to endow human qualities to a wide range of unlikely things. We give our pets names and we attribute to them the ability to think and understand us. We talk to the dog and the cat and the fish and the fern and allow ourselves to think that they “get” us. In fact, many pet-owners will say that their pets get them more than humans.

Our brands “get” us too!

Our brands feel the same way we do about child-labor (Nike), about ethical sourcing (Starbucks), about speed and elegance (Maserati, Alfa Romeo), about families (Apple, BMW, Heinz, Disney, McDonald’s, and many more). Our values are reflected in our brands and we choose our brands for their values.

This happens for the simple reason that a beloved brand (for us) enters into our DNA. It becomes a part of our identity, and while it is always possible to change this identifier, we only do so in changing ourselves. The change can be subtle as in a shift away from Nike to Puma, or it can be dramatic as in deleting a cigarette brand when we quit smoking. In the first case, it is a matter of our personal style and the statement it makes, in the second it is much more about deep-seated value decisions about your life. Marlboro cannot be part of your identity anymore if you have become a non-smoker.

On the other hand, people who quit smoking half-heartedly keep their identity in tact – and usually become backsliders.

Most people contain a number of brands within their personality mix. We do it in order to establish an identity both to ourselves and to the world at large. Since I am and have always been very sensitive to brands, I will use myself as a test case.

My Brands

When I am shoe shopping – which does not happen more than once a year or so – I do not go out with the intention to shop randomly until I discover what I want. If it is a new pair of sneakers, I look for Pumas. If it is work shoes, I favor Italian brands. In the first case, it is a quite specific brand. In the second, it is a specific category.

It might sound heretical to say so, but there is no quantitative difference among Puma, Nike, Converse, adidas, Reebok, or any of 20 other brands. Most have features to distinguish them, but before I leave my flat to head out to shop for them, I have already made my brand choice. I like Puma.

Why? God knows!

In my experience they do not last for more than a year without coming apart. They are less common and therefore harder to find. And they are priced at a premium compared to others. This is not a value for money choice – it is a clear brand choice.

A number of things go through my head – I like Nikes and they were among my first sneakers that I chose myself. I like how they look and feel. But I am annoyed that they are everywhere. I don’t like Reebok – the association I have with Reebok is that of a secretary walking to work with heels in her bag (that used to be a thing). And I like New Balance generally, but the name bugs me. I like Puma because it is none of these things. It seems like it is all about style. It’s about me. So my choice – in this little bit of stream-of-consciousness, which is automatically felt and never clearly articulated unless pushed to do so – is already made.

I once bought a pair on holiday because I needed a new pair (the old ones were shot) but did not find any that fit me well. But I bought them anyway and wore them for about six months while they actually hurt my feet each day.

Puma for me was an identity. It was not pushing sales down my throat. It was not about organizing contests and ten-mile runs. It simply is. And because I feel that way about the brand, I immediately filtered out the many others and concentrated my search on them.

Another of my brands includes a Mont Blanc Meisterstück pen, a brand that has been close to me for many years. I use the Mont Blanc for signing “important” documents. It is a personal ritual and part of my own brand. I also contain Alfa Romeo cars in my personal brand. Although I currently do not own one, I have had two in my life, and they are “my” car and thus a part of my brand. I will very certainly own another one again!

A few other brands – in no order – include:

Why would I include a city in my brand? For many people, their home towns are an integral part of their brands. The place where you grew up or spent your formative years becomes an integral part of your branding. For me it is Rome, Italy, even though I have lived in a number of European capitals and other countries and cities over the years. Rome is my brand without question – it is the one place that I love without needing to justify or qualify with reasons. This does not make Rome a “better” city than Paris, London, Munich, Belgrade, or Shanghai.

It makes it my city.

In all the examples above, the brands that are part of my identity are those that have had a lasting presence in my life, by my own choice. Pasta De Cecco, as another kind of example, is a remembered brand. It is unavailable in Belgrade where I am living today and I have not been able to buy it in years. But I remember how much I liked it. I can picture its logo and brand identity. I associate it with excellent pasta. And again, it may not objectively be better than Barilla or Buitoni or Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, but it is my pasta brand.

The brands we love communicate with us on a much more intimate level than those about which we are indifferent, only just “like”, or have ambivalent feelings. Looking at Place Branding (also called Nation Branding), we can break down the reasons for which Rome continues to be my brand. It appeals to a number of deep emotional triggers – nostalgia, familiarity, consistency, and trust. In Place Branding, one could use the same triggers to alter my personal brand by communicating heavily in all these areas regarding Paris, for example. It would not be a direct appeal to me – because the agencies working on Paris as a brand do not and could know me – but to the same base phenomena that attach me to Rome.

The brands that comprise me, moreover, need not be static.

Newton’s first law of motion is in play here. It is commonly stated as: “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”[1] In our context, it means that I will happily stick with my own personal brands until another one of sufficient impact comes along to bump the old ones out of the way.

Some will try. Many will fail. But some will get through!






[1] “Corpus omne perseverare in statu suo quiescendi vel movendi uniformiter in directum, nisi quatenus illud a viribus impressis cogitur statum suum mutare.” Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, Sir Isaac Newton, 1687.


Questions about your brand? Want to launch something new? Contact notapipe brand consulting today and we will assess your situation, give a frank appraisal, and real ideas and usable suggestions about how we could work together to make your brand the best it can be!



Branding the Mask

design maskIf the human race can be counted on for anything, it is that we will consistently scare ourselves to death whenever we can. We love to overreact, spin conspiracies, and take (or talk a lot about taking) radical action. It’s what we do.

Another thing we do is we exploit our native fears for commercial purposes.

Enter the Asian Surgical Mask Phenomenon. This is a trend that continues to build and grow year on year. From China to Korea to Japan to any number of Asian nations, the spread of the surgical mask gets wider and wider. On any given day in Shanghai, you can see people walking around, sporting the mask. The mask exists to ward off airborne germs (yours or others) or protect you from air pollution.

But where are the brands?

With hundreds and thousands of blank white spaces covering noses and mouths, why are we not seeing a market for Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel masks – or Nike, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s? The opportunity for brand communication is enormous and yet is left almost completely alone.
It could be that the brands do not want to connect themselves with illness – and that would be justified and understandable. But one has to assume that many of the masks are now being worn less out of necessity than as accessories. In that case, I would expect a swelling tide of branded masks to already be out there.

An argument could be made for luxury brands, adding a new area for expansion in affordable luxury, akin to sunglasses and watches. Surely a “little black dress” could be accompanied by a “little black mask.” Coco Chanel would like the consistency and Lagerfeld would have fun with it.

Sports brands could use them to promote awareness and their concern with the wellbeing of their consumers. Nike shorts. Nike t-shirt. Nike headband. Nike facemask. Just do it.

Sadly, the need for facemasks in high pollution areas is no joke. On “high alert” days in China, people are encouraged to stay indoors rather than expose themselves to the toxic air. In such an environment, masking up is good alternative to hiding yourself away. And people are doing it in droves. There is so much demand in China, for example, that the counterfeiters have moved in on the territory. What do they know that the big brands don’t?

It is curious to me, therefore, that this opportunity is being neglected. If the facemask is becoming de rigeur, surely fashion mavens should be calling for their integration in one’s total look. Sunglasses were invented for UV protection, but people now choose them based first on how they look and only then on how they protect.pipemask

Depending on my mood, I would certainly have a notapipe branded mask for working days, a Puma mask to match my sneakers, and perhaps an Armani mask for formal occasions.

In the words of Karl Lagerfeld himself: “Don’t dress to kill, dress to survive.”




Branding and Blind Spots

While knowing the unknown may not be possible, it is certainly possible to imagine the unthinkable.


You have a new brand.

You are engaged in the production of Stuff for which you made an Investment. The Stuff you make requires a huge production Staff and a Factory. The Distribution of the Stuff requires a whole bunch of Trucks. The Sale of the Stuff requires a raft of salespeople traversing the country.

Stuff. Investment. Staff. Factory. Distribution. Trucks. Sales.

These are key messages that Stuff Inc. would like to communicate to the world at large and its stakeholder base about your brand. The Stuff you make is needed by many, desired by all, and you can talk about your commitment to manufacturing, your level of investment, your employment contribution and your efficiency in getting it on the shelves so consumers may buy it at a reasonable price. Nothing but good news here.

But the real story is the one that is sitting in your blind spot.

A blind spot is a point in the human eye where visual information is missing. Normally, the brain compensates for this spot by filling in information from the other eye or from the imagination. Therefore, when you merely look at something, you cannot be sure that what you “see” is exactly what there is. These blind spots are known as “scotomata” – and everybody has them.

By the same token, a company is made up of individual humans, each with a brace of human eyes and a collection of bigger and smaller scotomata. When you are preparing to deliver your Good News to the waiting stakeholders, you must ask yourself – what am I not seeing?

Perhaps your Stuff has harmful side effects. Maybe the Investment you made has been mismanaged. Your Staff may not be uniformly happy. Your Distribution may break down in certain parts of the country. Your Trucks burn dirty fuel. And your Salespeople may be chronic liars….

Out of SightShelfTutorial15

Getting the Good News to stakeholders is not a simple task. They will always see your situation from a different perspective. Some of them will want to shine a light into your blind spots and reveal aspects of your business that you have not discussed. This is where communications in companies goes astray. In fact, and in many instances, we are not taking about deliberate deception on your part. This is really a case of others seeing what you cannot.

A sound brand strategy relies on your ability to see the full picture – no dark shadows, no blind spots, no unexplored regions. As a result, many companies who know this may choose voluntarily not to communicate at all rather than run the risk of having something come to light that they may have overlooked.

This is, in my view, a mistaken approach. The fact remains that we can never have 100 percent certainty that we covered all the angles. We may have turned the chess board around several times and still not see the pawn which is about to corner our king.

Knowing the Unknown

By deliberately holding back and saying nothing out of fear, you are also sending a message about Stuff Inc., your nice little company with its nice little story, which tells stakeholders that you may really have something to hide.

If you choose to communicate, your job is simply to explore these possible dark corners, to create What-If scenarios to cover your blind spots. In this case, having an outside view will help apply a new set of eyes – colder and more objective eyes – to try to poke holes in your story. Your consultant, like your doctor, will make a full diagnosis and attempt to see everything before writing any prescription.

While knowing the unknown may not be possible, it is certainly possible to imagine the unthinkable. In this way, you can tell the world about the Stuff that you produce, how you do it, and what benefits it brings. Your blind spots are still there and still essentially dark, but by careful thinking you can be ready to explore them with the stakeholders and keep your nice story about your new business intact.

The Duty to be Different

The client always knows best.

The recent news that Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick decided to undertake its own spectacular rebranding, choosing to do it in-house and deep-sixing their agencies, is a black eye to branding professionals everywhere.

The message? You just don’t get it.

The fact that Kalanick couldn’t trust anyone else to brand his company should send shudders throughout the branding industry – it signals that the industry is stagnating and running out of good ideas. Or at least it has allowed the perception of this syndrome to take over.

When I heard about this, the first question that came to my mind was why? Did his agencies let him down? Did he feel that being the innovator and leader of this market was not getting enough play in the media? Was he just tired of seeing the same old “U” everywhere? And I mean EVERYWHERE.

The only thing that made sense to me was that the Uber chief was dissatisfied with what he saw when he looked at his brand. He lost the feeling that Uber’s brand was communicating all that it needed to say to all the people who needed to know it, to feel it, and to experience it.

And apparently no one was showing him anything better.

The conclusion he drew, however, was flawed. That is: if no one would show him a more creative idea, then he must do it himself. That is the equivalent of deciding to perform brain surgery because a team of doctors had no answers. I do not wish to say that Travis Kalanick has no creative branding ideas – only that he has not devoted his life to expanding upon them.

‘Creative,’ in the meantime, has become a huge industry. It is in marketing, advertising, branding, and everywhere else we can try to stick it. The word is starting to lose meaning. The most unfortunate side of this is that everything that becomes an industry unto itself will sooner or later succumb to complacency, to stagnation, and to standardization.

Reading through the press today, we see many people trying to define what is going on in branding today – it is interactive, it is breakthrough, it is disruptive. Yet all of these terms, and many more in the jargonicon, only serve to describe the way in which a consumer perceives a brand.

In the end, the brand is successful when the consumer, for reasons far beyond the product features or design, loves it. A brand is successful when it creates for itself a place in the consumer’s heart and soul.

That’s me, he should say. That’s my brand.

Moments and Momentum

462847The ways to achieve this for a brand are many and varied, but throwing a lot of Creative at it will not help unless there is a rationale and a reason behind it. For me, creativity is a spark. It is a Moment. That spark ignites a lot of hard work to find the best way to express it.

Branding agencies, as opposed to business innovators and entrepreneurs, spend most of their waking hours striving to discover these Moments. They do it on behalf of clients who just do not have the time or inclination to do it themselves. This is just a simple function of optimum use of resources.

Your housepainter knows 37 shades of white – you know one or two. Why not listen to him?

Branding is so much more than a logo and a new coat of paint. Although I will not go into an analysis of Uber’s rebrand here, I will say that I find it to be more cosmetic than fundamental. Again, this is not Kalanick’s fault – it is not what he is best at – but it is the fault of any agency that presented to him. They failed him. They did not show him a vision of the brand that could move him.

In my experience, the best branding projects are born of a kind of synergy between the business and the branding agency. No one knows and understands a business better than its owners or managers; and no one understands how to spread that understanding better than a brander. The two must work hand in hand to forge a lasting brand.

The duty of the branding agency, however, is to think differently than the businessperson. Ideas, values, emotional bonds, and gut feelings must find their expression in such a way that EVERYONE can relate positively to the brand. Not because it makes logical and practical sense, but because it feels right.

Can a layperson hit upon such an idea? Of course he could. And I could possibly hit a hole in one at the 18th hole.

But I am not a golfer – what are my chances?

Fusion Reaction

In the category of Worst Brand Names, I nominate a recent discovery: NUXE.

Meant to be a “beauty brand which would bring together Nature and Luxury”, what we are left with is a rather strange set of associations. Continue reading