>The doorbell rang, earlier tonight and a neighbor, wearing a harness filled with a little baby, asked me to come restart her mower. When I arrived, I quickly started the mower and proceeded to mow the lawn, not wishing to see the tiny mom with the tinier baby struggle with the mower. Within a few seconds, I started wondering how she had accomplished the one trip around the lawn before the mower stopped. Pushing the mower was shear torture. I rested at the end of each trip around the yard, wondering why it was so difficult. After completing about one-quarter of the yard, I stopped to rest, and commented that I’d never used a mower this hard to push. As she started to walk over to see what my problem was, I realized what my problem was: it was a self-propelled mower, which I had not yet engaged. With the simple push of a lever, the mower practically did the job itself.
I laughed at myself, and then soon realized my experience was a metaphor for brand failure with some of our clients. Like the self-propelled mower, all the great brand management in the world does little good if the employees don’t know how to use it, don’t embrace the brand or don’t own it every day.
My coworkers and I have been discussing this very issue lately, and realized that the failure of many of the brand management advice we give clients is directly attributed to the lack of follow through at the client level. When we include brand training at the front line, company-wide presentations and ongoing training, many clients say they’ll avoid that cost and do it themselves.
Like picking a budget printer who has no contact with the designer or letting your in-house help desk team build the corporate website, internally launching the brand with only in-house resources is a recipe for disaster. In most cases, clients who come to us for brand management consultation and support don’t have the team in-house to define the brand, let alone present the brand to the people responsible for owning the brand. The same outside viewpoint that discovers these clients’ brands is also the best prepared to communicate that effort internally.
Even worse: someone completely outside the brand discernment process steps in at the last minute – without benefit of the lengthy, sometimes painful and always beneficial discussions – hijacks the process and the brand comes out the other end looking like its been through a mower.
The best way to attack the brand job: get many people involved in the beginning – the like-minded and the people most likely to puke on your ideas – in the middle and at the end, then let them get to work. It’s a whole lot easier to get the job done that way.