Episode 1 // Everyone’s Doing Branding Wrong

A good name is bet­ter than rich­es.”

Most peo­ple mis­un­der­stand brand­ing today. And it’s cost­ing them. Most peo­ple want a brand because they know it rais­es mar­gins, that great brands keep employ­ees and that their focus caus­es them to accom­plish much more with what they have.

Companies Invest in the Wrong Things

Mon­ey: spend too much mon­ey, invest­ing in a look and feel.

  • Brand­ing agen­cies give you what you’re able to inspire. If you’re try­ing to be like every­one else, they’ll give you a nice, con­tem­po­rary look and feel that will not dis­tin­guish you at all, but will make you look cur­rent.
  • We’ve trained them that way. Even the good ones are so used to clients say­ing that they want to mat­ter, but then shoot­ing down every idea that could make the brand stand out.
  • So they’ve learned to play it safe. No mat­ter how much they talk about tak­ing risks and focus­ing your rel­e­vance, it’s just not some­thing they can make mon­ey off of. So they sell out.

Time: spent putting out fires instead of build­ing process­es to ensure that the same fires don’t spring up again.

  • If you’re always putting out fires, when do you have time to build process?
  • Or if you’re con­stant­ly chang­ing direc­tion, how do your trust­ed man­agers build process? They almost have to do it behind your back in order to get any­thing done. I’ve been there.

Emo­tion: on get­ting frus­trat­ed, instead of lead­ing with clar­i­ty.

  • If you’re only focused on short-term vic­to­ries, but aren’t plan­ning to win the war, how will you know which set­backs are ones you should wor­ry about and ones you should over­look?
  • If you can’t focus on a long-term goal, how will your employ­ees and cus­tomers know what you’re real­ly about and can fol­low you? How will peo­ple know to weed them­selves out of your audi­ence and your team?

There’s Bad News, and there’s Good News

The bad news is that this doesn’t hap­pen overnight. Think of it as a cap­i­tal expense in your brand. Because it takes more than good inten­tions to be a good brand; it requires char­ac­ter.

Char­ac­ter in a com­pa­ny is not built by repeat­ing a mis­sion state­ment and hav­ing every­one mem­o­rize it. It’s by being inspired by your own mis­sion, vision and val­ues. And if they’re not inspir­ing, you got­ta fix that.

  • Build­ing com­mu­ni­ty inside and out­side.
  • Build­ing expec­ta­tions that your com­pe­ti­tion can’t match.
  • Build­ing process­es that back up your claims. In fact, build the bones of the process­es, and then make the promis­es.

Here’s a con­fes­sion. With very few excep­tions, every­thing I learned about brand­ing comes not from adver­tis­ing class­es, mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion lit­er­a­ture or watch­ing the best adver­tis­ing agen­cies; it came from lead­er­ship lit­er­a­ture. Lis­ten­ing to guys like Lead­er­ship Freak Dan Rock­well and read­ing Stephen Cov­ey.

  • In fact, most of us live this way in our lives. Most of us aren’t climbers who don’t care about lead­er­ship and only care about our own sta­tus.
  • Most of us aren’t wor­ship­ing the almighty dol­lar at the expense of our fam­i­lies and rela­tion­ships.
  • There’s no rea­son we shouldn’t treat a busi­ness as a place where rela­tion­ships and char­ac­ter bring val­ue to life.

Branding Can’t be Bought. But It Can Be Earned

Folks, brand­ing can’t be bought. But if you com­mit to doing it right, it can not only raise your mar­gins, but it can give you a busi­ness that you’re proud of, that you can enjoy com­ing into every day. We just have to remem­ber that it’s always about peo­ple, our promis­es to them, and our abil­i­ty to ful­fill those promis­es.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, and you want to learn more about stand­ing up a brand in your own orga­ni­za­tion using the brand hack­ing method, which is keep­ing it sim­ple and iter­at­ing quick­ly, then let’s talk.

Bio: I’m Chris Stadler, and I’ve been watch­ing, work­ing, study­ing and con­sult­ing for brands since 2004. I will show you how to right-size your promis­es so that they’re promis­es you can keep. Because it’s not the expen­sive brand­ing agen­cies that make great brands; they’re just the dec­o­ra­tors. It’s your lead­er­ship and integri­ty that make it all work. But it takes process.