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

  1. I am constantly impressed by your ability to relate your posts and topics to those who do not come from the marketing/branding world. Your examples hit home for the world that we ( the BitMethod folks ) play in as well. We have seen all too often were clients come back to fix up a project that was outsourced or done by the lowest bidder. I am glad someone else in this world understands that magic is about slight of hand…. not results.

    • What a great post, Daniel! Thank you so much.

      And to your point, I can appreciate the troubles that you at BitMethod have. Your intellectual properties are so valuable and to have them constantly devalued by such “experts” has got to be frustrating.

      Your commitment to innovation, quality and service to your clients is unmatched. Having the ability to stand strong to those qualities is just one benefit you provide to your clients — as well as those that come to you to “fix” the issues that come up when bad decisions are made…

      It’s great to have you as part of the community.

      Keep Cooking & Happy Holidays!
      Andrew B. Clark
      The Brand Chef

  2. always good to fly by The Brand Chef. Nice post, Mr. Clark. I agree most with #5. Droping the egos allows things to actually get done. Being humble is a good way to be- always.

    • Thanks Mav!

      A little humility and open ears tend to make the process much easier, right?!?

      Thanks for stop[ping by the kitchen. Hope to talk to you soon.

      Andrew B. Clark
      The Brand Chef

  3. Andrew,

    Your point #1 is really what it’s all about. Slapping a new coat of paint on a used car doesn’t it make it new or run any better. Brands are not manufactured, they are grown.

    Keep up the god work.

    • Thank you, Jeffrey! And thanks for stopping by The Brand Chef’s kitchen. I look forward to hearing more from you!

      Keep Cooking!
      Andrew B. Clark
      The Brand Chef

  4. I really like this post, Andrew – it speaks volumes in a very concise way. I know I speak a lot about “social media expert” and I fear maybe the “SME’s” are now re-branding themselves as “brand experts” since people are starting to scrutinize their “routines” more carefully.

    I really like the part about not applying Method A to Company B. So true, and companies that try merely to duplicate past performances using past techniques are going to get left behind.

    • Thanks Troy!

      I really appreciate all of the network and social media “love” you provide for our community! And seeing as though we’re of like-minds on the whole “Expert” thing, I’ll skip calling you one… although you ARE damn good… 🙂

      Keep Cooking!
      Andrew B. Clark
      The Brand Chef