A month of living “brandlessly”

I’ve sworn off using the term “brand” (or even Bob for that matter) for a month. Actually I tweeted my intention last week so in reality I’ve been doing it for nearly a week now.

When the word is attached to everything that moves it’s easy to lose sight of what we are actually trying to say (and do). So in a search for clarity, removing the crutch or shorthand of using the word is a great first step (even if only for a time).

Of course, I don’t want things to grind to a halt so, in order to live “brandlessly” here are some things that will help you continue to operate – shorthand free descriptions of the most common ways the word gets used.

1. There is an entity – organisation, a company, a business, a person and okay sometimes a product or a service (for our purposes we’ll call it the company).
2. The company has a name. That’s it no embellishment necessary. A name.
3. It has an image, usually made up of visual elements that people use to recognise when they have encountered the company.
4. The company has that one thing that becomes the focus of what it does, how it does it and why it does it.
5. The people that work for the company share a set of beliefs or values that guide how they behave and what their decisions and actions will be.
6. They can make those decisions and actions so that they all work together consistently and make it more successful.
7. The people who work for the company can make decisions and carry out actions that succeed but sometimes they lead to failure.
8. The company can show people their image and tell them about what it does.
9. When the company tells a lot of people it can lead to the name and image becoming well-known.
10. When people learn about the company and have a good experience with what it does, they will talk about it to their friends and family.
11. When the company becomes really well-known it can come to dominate a particular area so other companies find it hard to compete against them and get customers of their own.

* (Can you guess what shorthand terms the above list replaces? See end of the blog for the key.)

I know there will be those out there for who a whole sentence instead of a couple of words is just a waste of precious time. After all, we live in a 140 character or less kind of world these days.

However, I do believe that information king Edward Tufte was onto something when he said “to clarify add detail”. Sometimes the true intent is only revealed in a slightly longer description.

As I’ve discussed previously, there are lots of words out there that through over-use and misuse have effectively become meaningless.

So join me in a month of living “brandlessly” – I think you might be surprised by how much clearer everyone is.

See you next week.

*Shorthand key: Brand; brand name; brand image; brand essence; brand values; brand alignment; brand failure; brand marketing; brand awareness; brand conversations; brand dominance.

Michel Hogan is an independent adviser and advocate dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. She also publishes the Brand Alignment blog. You can follow Michel on Twitter @michelhogan.


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