Content warning: don’t read any further if you’re happy to accept prevailing branding practice
The idea that a strong brand can be created through branding is wrong.
I’m betting most everything you’ve heard or read from branding professionals has lead you to assume there is only one way to build a great brand – with branding. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Ever since the term began to be used as a verb, marketing and graphic design firms have been falling over themselves to adopt the terminology, christen a methodology and push the party line. Instead of a brand being a naturally occurring, tangible thing that is nurtured over time through reputation and reflected in visual identity or advertising, it’s now considered an idealised construct to be applied at will.
It’s the AFL footballer school of marketing: if you don’t have a personality, get some tattoos.
The raft of Australian businesses who buy into the myth that they’re going to be successful if they just get their brand right are being deluded by the brand peddlers, misguided at best. You want a strong brand? Stop all “brand-building” activity immediately. A strong brand is simply a by-product of doing a bunch of other things. If you get them right, the brand will take care of itself. If you don’t, all the branding in the world won’t help.
This is my simple 5-step formula for building a professional services firm into an international “mega-brand”! Not necessarily easy, but certainly simple:
- Start by selling an excellent product or providing a truly great service. Ensure you’re attractively presented with a compelling message
- Identify a local audience that: a. needs your service; b. can afford your service; and c. is big enough to support competition
- Concentrate solely on servicing the bejeezus out of them. Recommendations carry a hundred times the weight of advertising
- Keep on taking good care of your core customer group, and your reputation will grow
- When this has allowed you to earn enough to advertise, do so to expand your market.
That’s what builds brands, and that’s all you need to know. The rest is a load of farmyard confetti.
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