Who is in control of your brand? You?
After you spend years developing your product – an ice cream brand, for example – and struggle with all of its aspects, its flavors, its look, and its packaging, agonizing over all the details to make it just right, making sure it reflects your values and your personality, the next step would be to get the word out. So you hand it over to the nefarious brothers, Big Marketing and Big Advertising.
They will know what to do, right?
Wrong. But this is what most people end up doing. The Big Brothers look at your product as a money-spinner. They will want to decide who should buy it, where it should be sold, what the price will be, what the messages will say, and even what the thing should look like. The Big Brothers have satchels full of graphs and diagrams and funnels and focus groups and surveys and dozens of freshly baked pie charts. The Brothers Big, Marketing and Advertising, want you to know that only THEY know how your brand can be brought before the consumer public.
And it will be expensive, to be sure. But, say the Brothers, you must listen to us.
Suddenly your lovely ice cream brand, the one which you have been dreaming of since your early youth, the one that want the world to love as much as you do, has become a washing powder. Or a toothpaste. It could sell hand over fist. You could be the New Ice Cream Tycoon. But it will no longer be your brand.
Control over your brand should remain precisely where it was born – in your hands, in your heart, and in your mind. A brand is as much about art as is it is about economics. Branding is an experience of creative discovery, where innovation and ideas meet strong emotions. A strong brand is an expression of deep feelings, of character, and of desire. It is not a commodity to be traded impersonally on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange along side orange concentrate and pork bellies.
Before you hand over your brand, you must first
make sure that you have established it fully.
A brand has stories and a visual identity. It has as much personality as a good friend and inspires the same kind of loyalty. The fact is if YOU do not create your brand, the Big Brothers will.
Big Marketing and Advertising will not see your brand sold exclusively on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. They will see it on Main Street and State Street and in every shop and convenience store. They will see it in such a way that it translates into instant cash, with big flashing letters and bright colors!
It is not their fault – that is why they exist. And they do a lot of good for lesser brands, products and services conceived as a means to generate money. Many people are in business for this very reason. A washing powder needs to be trusted to get blood and ketchup out of your son’s baseball uniform, not to be the stuff of dreams. Proctor and Gamble was established for this. Henkel lives for it. Your ice cream brand, however, probably should have a different destiny.
The destiny of your brand will also be to make money and become profitable, of course. But it should do so on its own terms and in accord with its true identity. And if the Big Brothers want to speed past this, it does not mean you must surrender. On the contrary, you can nurture your brand to its full potential and self-expression by turning to a branding agency first. A good branding agency works with you and your brand to ensure its destiny.
Working with brand developers and professionals is a means to evoke all of the qualities about which YOU have dreamed in creating your brand. Writing the stories of your brand is part of it, creating the mosaic of its life and meaning. Once you have brought your brand into being and fully expressed its purpose, identity, and character, then the Big Brothers can help – they will not have fill in any blanks from their more mercantile imaginations.
Your brand is your dream and your vision. Be true to it before others try to take it over.