Archive for October, 2012

Really, Fast Company?

DATE: October 18th, 2012

Last week Fast Company released data on the cost of brand for various high profile companies — you can read the article here….

But let me say that I’m disappointed that one of the most read business magazines would mess up the idea of brand so badly.

The article lists the cost attributed to the development of company’s logo. It’s a fascinating read — you should read it.

But my beef is with the interchange of verbage between “logo” and “brand.”

I will just spit this out… a logo does not equal a brand.

Brand is the profound centre of a company. Brand is what distinguishes it from their competition. Let’s be honest. The Gap, Old Navy and Penningtons all sell t-shirts and jeans. But I’m pretty sure you have a clear idea of the personality of each of these clothing retailers.

Brand is not the differentiation of logo or of product. It is a poignant characteristic that defines the overall customer experience. It is the values and the nature of the company.

In the next decade, with the rise of mobile and digital environments, brand is becoming even more critical. Brand helps customers, clients and supporters find you in the confusion of billions and trillions of mega bytes of data. Brand wiggles its way to the top of the pack.

Investment into brand requires three critical pathways:

1. Understanding your audience

No, your product is not appropriate for EVERYONE in the world. There is a select group of people that are crazy about your product. Talk to them. Visit them. Get to know everything about them. Talk directly to them while the rest of the world listens in (because they will listen )

2. Leave the ivory tower

Resist the temptation to define your product from your own vantage point. Our friends  at RIM had no desire to use a touch screen…. and the logic of their thinking was that if they didn’t want to use it no one would… well, we know how that story ended.

I just received an email from a friend who is incensed at the lack of copy writing skill of the writer of the Brad Pitt ad for Chanel. She wanted me to say — “yeah, I’d never write that….” but, fact is, I would if I was talking to women who would pay $100 for under 2 ounces of fragrance. But you see, that’s not even Chanel’s audience. Their audience is 50+ women who think a fragrance will get them time with a Brad clone.

3. Listen

You won’t know your audience unless you get out there and engage with them. More than that, you won’t understand your audience until you have reliable tests and research that helps you understand the precise audience you are talking to. Resist the temptation of looking in the mirror — that is not your audience. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard a client say that “I would never buy that.” OK…. but maybe you aren’t the audience.

I love advertising for motorcycles. The audience is a unique group of people who want to wear a paisley head scarf and drink coffee (?) out of a mug with orange flames. It’s so not me. And frankly, if I was thinking about me, I wouldn’t really develop that…. but you see, it’s not about me.

I  am barely resisting a brand lecture — but give me a call and I will pour out my wisdom over a cup of coffee.