Why I talk about brand as a result

How can Optus even consider the idea of changing its name? Or furthermore, absurdly consider changing it to what has been effectively its positioning for the past few years?

Plenty has been written about the insanity of Optus potentially changing its name to “yes”. What’s next? Commbank calling itself “can” can’t be far behind.

But missing to some degree is the acknowledgement that there is a wasteland of strategic thinking and fundamental misunderstanding about brand that leads to these ideas. Any common sense gets sacrificed in service to a search for the grail that most seem to think “brand” represents, and that a shift in a name can deliver. What utter folly.

It is in circumstances like this where my personal heresy about brand is demonstrated most vividly.

Brand is a result.

It is a result of the many actions and decisions an organisation makes. This means all of them – not just the one about what to call itself.

Brand is ultimately the result of the promises it keeps. The operative words here being result and keeps. Any company even flirting with the idea of naming itself “yes” has no concept of that reality.

It’s a nice gimmick but, without really trying, I can think of dozens of times when a promise of “yes” could not be kept simply due to the day-to-day demands of doing business.

Looking at brand as a result leads to a profound shift in thinking about the things an organisation does to build that brand. Divorced from the usual marketing-driven approaches that pay little attention to operational realities, brand as a result demands they be part made of the equation. A few weeks ago I talked about this deep work.

When brand is a result it is all connected.

What you are wired for (purpose and values) shapes what you can do (strategy and goals), drives what you do (actions and decisions), is what stakeholders experience (promises kept), and results in the brand.

Here’s a more concrete example of what I’m taking about.

Patagonia believes it can make good products that do as little harm as possible and at the same time help solve the environmental crisis (purpose and values). It wants to make products that work and last, for people to use outdoors for climbing, surfing and hiking (strategy and goals). It sources and uses fabrics and materials that are tough yet sustainable and anyone can see or ask about how where and how their products are made (actions and decisions). Customers wear and use the products during their outdoors adventures (promises kept). This results in the brand.

It’s still a bit general but you could break it down further for any company and product or service, internal or external, to see the connections in action across everything it does.

We’re way beyond a new name now. This is the deep work that is left out of the conversation when companies look for that brand grail.

See you next week when I’ll be back with the article I was going to write this week before Optus hijacked my thinking – “Talking to your Customers”.

Michel Hogan is an Independent Brand Thinker and Adviser dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. You can find Michel at michelhogan.com or you can follow her on Twitter @michelhogan.


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Mark Schroeder
Mark Schroeder
6 years ago

100% agree. Brand stems from authenticity, rooted in values and behaviours, preferably tangible, certainly real. Slapping a billboard or a name up does almost nothing to change a brand. Businesses that make such mistakes as the one you discuss are generally pretty lost. Making bad marketing decisions often stems from the reality that the product is really not very good…leads to wallpapering

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