Y’know when you’re job hunting and you apply for a job and, like, 8 months later you hear from them? I had one of those today. It’s for a brand role. What I love about these calls is they’re out of the blue. No time to prep my talking points. I’m faced with a recruiter whose job it is to screen me before offering me an interview. This is always thrilling for me because it keeps me sharp and on my toes. And how can I call myself a marketer if I can’t even sell myself?
Today’s call got my gears turning and made me realize I haven’t written about brand in a super long time. So here’s 3 things I know for sure about brands whether they’re global, mom & pop or personal. And because I know these things (and live them out), I truly believe I could support, evolve and cultivate any brand.
1. The brand already exists
YOU are a brand. A church is a brand. An ice cream shop is a brand. A building contractor is a brand. The way a company conducts itself internally is a brand. Directors, marketers, small business owners…it’s not a case of whether or not you have a brand. You do. It’s whether you manage the brand or not that’s the question.
2. You are not the audience
This is something I learned early in my career. We don’t design things because we like them. Once in a while, I get the pleasure of supporting a brand for which I happen to be the audience. That’s such a luxury. As brand managers, creatives, curators we must get into the mindset of the audience. Be a sponge. A chameleon. A mirror. And speak a language they can, and will, receive with joy.
3. Listen to learn
No matter what you think your brand is communicating, no matter what kind of thing you think you have going on, what people say about you when you’re not in the room…that’s your brand. When I began the process of rebranding a client in 2014, I started with a listening exercise. I just listened. I went on jobs and listened to our team interacting with clients. I read long email threads I was CCd into. I asked our clients questions. And I learned that although they wanted to be perceived as creative and high-end, what our clients were saying about us is that we were “fast and cheap”.
I have a mantra: CHEAP. FAST. GOOD. Pick 2.
Changing this perception took 3 years. Eventually, we were being sought for our ideas and creative powers. But it took buy-in from every section of our business. From product development to admin to HR to production. When a company is willing to fully immerse itself in the process of defining (or re-defining) the brand, incredible things can happen.