5 Things I Hate About Branding Experts

Walk in to virtually any ad agency and you’ll find ’em.  They’re usually in distressed jeans, flat, cordovan shoes with an un-tucked shirt and strategically ever-so-slightly messed hair.  Male, female… doesn’t matter, the only difference may be the thickness of stubble above the neck.  They make themselves known by their piercing stare as you bring your client in and sit them on the opposing side of the shiny, oak-veneered conference table.

expertI’m taking about “brand experts.” They seem to be multiplying like rabbits on Viagra.

In a matter of minutes, these eager little bunnies assess the client’s brand, their marketing, the company culture – down to how the phone is answered, and determine that the only path to redemption is to spend close to the nation’s national debt on a generalized rebranding “system” they conjured up years ago when “brand” became the new hot word in marketing.

To the clients: Any agency, consultant or semi-related industry individual that comes to you with a pre-developed formula for rebranding your company is selling you a bill of goods that will only perpetuate and exacerbate more trouble.  Put your checkbooks away and walk run away.

To the “experts:” Just so you’re aware, we see you.  Here are 5 things everyone should know about YOUR brand (in broad, generalities to make it easy for you to follow).

  1. Joan Rivers looks “great,” but is still one crazy chick…
    Superficial “rebranding” like reworked logos and stationery won’t solve deep branding issues.  A face lift, a nip here or a tuck there won’t make what’s at the core of the brand any different. So, put away your spec creative and mounted ads and listen for a second.
  2. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery…  it’s also called “LAZY.”
    What BBDO did for  company A won’t apply to company B.  If you can’t come up with an original idea on your own, then you need to get out of the “idea generation” biz.  Branding is different for each-and-every company and person.
  3. Magic is for children and idiots…  just ask David Copperfield.
    Smoke and mirrors, baby.  Even David Copperfield (called an “illusionist’) can’t really make an elephant disappear.  So, let’s address the true elephant in the room.  If you can’t deliver on your branding promises, then don’t blow smoke up our skirts.
  4. The proof is in the pudding…  but proof alone tastes like crap.
    One-hit rock stars, fly-by-night consultants…  all have a single claim to their “FAME.”  But part of making a great meal is marrying ingredients that, one alone, may put a pucker in your puss.  If you have the acumen of a seasoned group of marketers along with strategy, compassion and concern for the client, the taste will always work out in the end.  In other words, get a few under your belt before you try to claim the title.
  5. The louder you crow, the more you look like a… rooster.
    Some of the best practitioners I’ve been involved with have been soft-spoken and understated (that goes for ANY trade).  If you walk into the room like you’re the most important person there, then you’ve already put the client into a subordinate position.  Why would they want to work with that looming over them?  Just drop the ego.

Sure, I call myself “The Brand Chef” but that, by no means, makes me an expert on your brand.

What does it mean?  Like a chef, I work with a team of proven professionals and use the tools of the trade (marketing communications, design, photography, interactive strategy, etc.) to build a TRUE brand for our clients.  There are no pre-packaged recipes for branding.  There is no secret formula. With research, listening, conversation, strategy and honesty, we guide our clients to the best solution for brand marketing possible.

If that’s too simple for you, then give a “Branding Expert” a call.  We’ll be here to pick up the pieces when it all comes crashing down.

Keep Cooking!
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef