Another brand book. As a brand consultant I feel duty bound to check out the latest ‘cut through the mystery’ guide to branding. With recommendations from CEOs who should know better, the subsequent text of simple truisms paraded as insights was disappointing. Like religion and politics, attitudes to branding become separated from clear intelligent logic as brand gurus resort to discussing intangible faith beliefs citing the words like ‘brand charisma’ as the magic ingredient for commercial success. Typically, Nike, Starbucks or Harley Davidson are then predictably rolled out as ultimate examples of real brand success. It seems ugly generalists such as WalMart with their unattractive functional commercial success do not help support beliefs that we need to have deep meaningful relationship with brands or encourage ‘love bites’ or whatever latest brand imagery is being touted by writers and practitioners.
The most obvious and sensible business strategies for selling more stuff and experiences somehow become transformed by inserting the ‘b.’ word to achieve immediate added value connotations, gravitas – and more consultancy fees. Straightforward consultancy services and processes such as evaluation and basic project management are transformed by giving them often pretentious TM protected brand names to package basic methodologies. Supported by equally protected banal diagrams and bubble symbols, the brand prefix syndrome now has a lot to answer for. It has led the consultants providing brand glossaries for the unsuspecting client who needs to understand the esoteric terminologies generated by the sector. Having commandeered simple English words which had clear original meanings, we are now faced with arguments over the subtle differences between brand visions, values, platforms, extensions, logos, icons, symbols, etc.
To achieve clarity, a test is to simply remove the ‘b.’ word from every communication and see whether the message, action or strategy is still doing its job. It might help brand consultants become more transparent and clear in what they are proposing and doing – certainly it would reduce my reading list.