May 27, 2010

Send In The Brand Babblers

There was a time in America when every problem was a communications problem.

If you couldn't get along with your husband, you weren't communicating. If your kid was incorrigible, you probably weren't on the same wavelength. If your boss didn't like you, you just couldn't get through to her. There were no problems of substance, just problems of communication.

The truth is, sometimes your husband is just a pain in the ass, and your kid is a nasty little snot, and your boss thinks you're a worthless shit. And the more you communicate the worse it gets.

Today we have the business version of this. Instead of communication, however, the problem in marketing today is always the brand

So if your products are crappy, or your stores are dirty, or your service is lousy, or your business strategy is stupid, you -- my friend -- have a brand problem! Send in the branding consultants. 

Pay them a few hundred thou and let them study your brand for a few months.

They'll give you a big fat report filled with charts and graphs and the latest up-to-the-minute buzzwords and cliches. And if anyone asks what you're doing about the problems you can make a nice little PowerPoint presentation.

Tinkering with the brand is so much more pleasant than solving the problems.

Solving problems requires unpleasantness. People have to be fired. Systems have to be changed. Products have to be redesigned.
Floors have to be swept and walls have to be painted.

Brand tinkering, on the other hand, is generally quite agreeable. All it requires is money and a bunch of congenial meetings.

Appoint a task force. Interview "stakeholders". Conduct focus groups. Have an off-site or two at a nice hotel.

Then start reporting the "learnings". Fire up the PowerPoint. Share the results. But remember, everyone's point of view is valid!

Best of all, if there's any real work to be done, it can be postponed until all the stakeholders have a chance to study the report and register their quibbles. Then the consultants can revise the deck, and everyone will be happy.

Unfortunately, after the money is spent and the naval-gazing brand babblers have all gone home, someone still has to sweep the floors and paint the walls.

No comments: