Like religion, branding seems to be an inevitable consequence of the basic human gene that makes us want to be part of a tribe or clan group with a shared belief system. I’ve never quite got my head round the search for individuality, self expression and being different, balanced with the urge to be in a club of ‘similars’. Apparently we want to walk around being Ted Baker or Gucci ambassadors and companies respond accordingly with branded goods and services that say something about their user’s taste, status and aspirations.
Today, for some companies, rebranding has very little to do with design and everything to do with PR and management organisation. The current repositioning of Walmart is potentially the biggest retailer rebranding exercise I am aware of. All about values – corporate ethics, people and planet issues. The problem is that developing differentiated company values and visions gets harder as everyone signs up for increasingly generic best practice statements of intent.
Linking PR and branding consulting should be a no-brainer but how often does it happen? Both are in the reputation industry but from my experience we move in different worlds. I accept crisis management is not the first thing I review with brand development but singing the same song and behaving consistently should be seamless activities.
Brand consultants rightly refer to creating ‘reasons to believe’ referring to consumers and, most importantly, employees. As with all brand strategies, if this is limited to creating a superficial gloss – a design facelift with feel good slogans left to the marketing department to sort, then we are in danger of returning to branding being just a packaging exercise.
Equally, if the PR strategy is not synchronized to the same “reasons to believe” as the brand communication and behavior we are all in trouble. Clearly companies and individuals still need that “human gene” of collective group thinking for survival reasons just like nature intended.