Full disclosure

I talk a lot about brand. That’s why I’m blogging about it; to give my friends and colleagues a break. In my professional circles, I’m known as a ‘brand’ guy. People know that if they ask me about marketing, communications, advertising, sales, etc. they’re going to get an answer based on brand. Heck, if they ask me about sports, current events or TV they’re probably also going to hear about branding.

But I have no vested interest, at least not a lot of vested interest. Branding is not a cash cow. If I successfully convince a client that brand is the critical foundation on which to build all business decisions, I still only get a little bit of the work. I can do the video, the advertising, the brochures, but they still have to manage their brand. They still have to train their employees to manage the brand and them empower them to own the brand.

That’s dirty work and the client has to do a lot of the heavy lifting.

I recently worked with a small town bank, and we created four critical issues based on an extensive strategic mapping process. Of the four, only one was marketing oriented. The other three were operational issues that they had to fix on their own.

A law firm came to us for a website a year or so ago, and we said “maybe you need a website and maybe you don’t. Tell us about yourself.” When we finished, there were several operational issues that had to be fixed before we could start on the website. I think I sold the fact that we focus on what needs to be done too hard because when we finished, we didn’t even get to do the website: they found a friend-of-a-friend-that-does-websites to do the work.

The point is I think it’s more important that my clients understand who they are and use it to drive everything they do – including the marketing communications – than it is to have a pretty logo or a nice looking brochure. And if they do it right, they don’t need to rely completely on me, my firm or my services.

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