I grew up in a little beachfront enclave called Sea Gate, which was at the entrance to New York harbor. My mother would take me in the stroller down to Nathan’s Hot Dogs in Coney Island. The hot dog was probably for her because I was still breast feeding. She told me later that she was always amazed how the mothers she saw would rock the hell out of their carriages to stop their kids from crying. Were they trying to give their kid a concussion? Maybe not, but it’s hard to know what they were thinking.
Just make believe your brand isn’t there. There is something equally distressing about how companies, through no deliberate effort, manage to squeeze the life out of their own brands. How does this crime happen? It’s actually pretty easy when you think about it. Let’s start with the extreme case–gross negligence. Nobody cares about the brand, nobody thinks about it. Think of this crime as starvation. You see it everyday in all the empty minded emails and ads you get that are on autopilot. You look for signs of intelligent life. Like in the movie, On the Beach, the telegraph is signaling, but there are no live humans present.
The next branding crime is trying too hard. It’s the parent who desperately wants their kid to be a lawyer. If you’re the kid, you have no choice but to dash their hopes with a video game career in the basement. It’s the guy who is so desperate to meet a woman that he flubs all of his lines. Lighten up. Brands that try too hard are pulling out all the stops to convince you that they are your friend. In situations like that, people tend to do the only sane thing: run in the opposite direction.
Always a favorite: branding by committee. The last of many building your brand crimes we could point out is one that we call “sanitized for your protection.” This happens when companies get all hands on deck to carefully scrutinize their branding. The theory is that the more people on the team, the better the result. Of course, the exact opposite is true, because everyone is an expert when it comes to telling you why something isn’t going to work. Too many cooks in the kitchen is always bad news in the dining room.
Why is building a brand so hard for so many companies? In the first case, they don’t take it seriously. In the second case, they take it too seriously. In the last case, they make it a group project–remember how much fun those were in school? Building a brand, like raising a child, doesn’t happen by itself. You actually need to do stuff every day. You learn by making mistakes. If you can learn from other peoples’ mistakes, that’s even better. Branding is just like life. The goal is to make it look easy, but the truth is that you’re always working at it.
This is part of an ongoing series that examines branding from the point of view of mere mortals such as yourself. If you’re for a human brand, contact us at — https://www.ahundredmonkeys.comcontact/