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I Have 100 Pounds Waiting for You!
What will it take to make your brand more durable? It is an important question for any business, and it’s worth some careful consideration.
Branding can be described as the “feel” that develops around a company or a person. Once a brand is forged in a person’s mind, it can be a time-consuming challenge to change that feel. Just consider the correlative affects of branding to understand why it is important to get it right.
Pick a brand - any brand - and consider what it brings to mind. For me, if you mention K-Mart, I think of grade school in the 1970’s when saying “Your mom buys your clothes at K-Mart” was an insult of the highest degree. That was memorable for me.
If you mention Applebee’s restaurant, I get a knot in my stomach, along with an ugly flashback of the last time I ate at Applebee’s. On the other hand, if you mention McDonald’s, I may nod my head and think to myself “yeah, I really do deserve a break today.”
You can apply the same principle to many of the people you know. During your use of social media, you have probably developed a view of certain people. As an example, there’s probably a lady who loves her cats - a lot, and maybe a guy that brings to mind the smell of dirty socks. In my case, there is a sizable crowd of people who post funny bacon-related content on my personal Facebook profile. If they think of me when they see bacon, I’m calling that a huge win! Go ahead, show me your bacon.
The “feel” you get about a brand can often extend far beyond the basic facts you know about the person or company. The stronger the brand message becomes, the more it creates a subconscious overall picture in your mind. You’ve surely experienced this, right?
Before we get too far, I just want to point out that I’m actually going to offer you 100 pounds of free bacon, and a new freezer to keep it in - just to help me find the job of my dreams. Now back to the point of the article. Ahh yes, we were addressing branding.
Preemptive Branding and Brand Defense
A brand will not always have a positive correlation affect on us. Creating a strong positive brand message early, and consistently working to build upon it can help minimize a need for defense. It can also minimize long term damage. Make no mistake - every brand is subject to damage.
Strong brands can overcome adversity. For example, when you think of Ford Motor Company, you probably don’t think of their disaster with the Ford Pinto that was known for blowing up if it was hit in the rear.
Additionally, you probably don’t give a lot of thought to cyanide when you take a Tylenol - but that was a different matter in 1982.
Time and continued brand-building has healed those brands. Their previously favorable brand-status was a huge asset to pull them through.
Of course, many companies don’t have time on their side. This is especially true of smaller or newer brands. NetFlix may or may not have enough time to recover from the huge 2011 media blows to their brand. Their stock dropped to less than half its previous value. It happened quickly and with a lot of attention. They have recently reported big gains, but you can bet those gains would come a lot slower if they didn’t already have a positive and widely recognized brand.
Brands Evolve, But Should Never Be Left to Luck
Many companies are apprehensive about carving their brand in stone. The stronger you build your brand, the slower it will change - for better or worse. This makes it important to get it right, but what should be even scarier than getting it wrong is to leave it up to the luck of the marketplace. Even if you only get it 90 percent right, it is better than neglecting it.
The wrong brand message can be polarizing. The good news is that the right brand message can be polarizing, too. Just look at Facebook, Google, and Microsoft for examples of companies unafraid to polarize their audience.
I often harp on this fact, and I’ll say it again: “Everybody” is not your target market! If your marketing is focused properly, you must be willing to exclude some people. It doesn’t mean you should insult them, but you also don’t want to waste your resources trying to reach them.
Branding Identifies You, And That’s Okay!
We don’t all think alike, and we don’t all respond to the same things. In my brand instance, I’ve stated that my job is to help brands become more exciting … somewhere along the lines of sex, bacon, and fast cars. Thus, my personal brand is often identified with bacon, sex, and race cars. That works for me, and my audience can appreciate these things.
Note: A brand does not have to be outrageous to be memorable and effective. It is just fine if you want to remember me as a darn nice guy who loves his family and really wants to help you.
Sex, bacon, and fast cars may not work for you, but you have your own brand to work with. Your brand grows all around you, even when you’re not looking. It is best to have a good understanding of that brand picture you’re building - and embrace it. You should never be too passive about your brand, or it will tend to fade and lose value - and suffer the wrath of the market.
This may give you a nauseous feeling as you hear the sound of the whole world as you know it collapsing around you, but I’ve got to share a bit of truth. There is almost certainly a person sitting at their computer right this moment who does not like bacon, nor sex, nor fast cars. In fact, those bits of my brand message may completely turn them away. Some people will be less than enamored by your brand, too. But that’s OK!
On the other hand, if you just threw something heavy across the room and screamed about how crazy this ball of rock and water called Earth has become, you’re my kind of person - passionate, wise, and perhaps a just bit nuts. Bacon, sex, and fast cars are staples. Some things are just better than others, and we realize that fact.
Some people are better, too! That whole notion of people all being equal sounds fantastic in theory. Sure, I guess you can say that we’re all equal in some ways, but some will just never be a good singer. I’ll demonstrate if I really must, but you’ll want to turn down your speakers. Better yet, you may want to unplug them. I’m really terrible at singing, but like anything else, mastering a talent takes practice.
Some people will be great at making a brand stand out against the backdrop of a squillion others. That’s my gig. It’s what I studied while the rest of the world was apparently taking vocal lessons to embarrass me. Now, the next time you’re thinking about bacon, race cars, or sex, I want you to remember what I said about branding. Practice can help a lot. Embrace your brand - and practice it!
Oh heck, I just hijacked your favorite food, your transportation, and your sex life. You can hate me later, but at least you’ll have a leg up on the competition!
100 Pounds of Free Bacon!
Just to be sure we’re clear on this, I want to offer you 100 pounds of free bacon!
I’m currently in the hunt for a new job. I’m seeking a company that wants a stronger brand, and a better marketing return on investment. They can’t have my brand, but I will work hard to understand and create their best brand message.
If you introduce me to that company, I will reward you with 100 pounds of free bacon. In fact, I’ll even buy you a new freezer to keep it in. That way, every time you enjoy that amazing bacon smell filling your kitchen, you can think of me.
How’s that for a way to build a brand picture? I’m happy with it!
Now let’s get you some free bacon. Here are links to my résumé
and a little more about me
. Use them wisely, my bacon-loving friend.
More Thoughts on Branding:
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