Marketing

Ditch the brand horseradish

Michel Hogan /

Our agency is telling us we can’t build a brand without figuring out our “core motivating idea”, but we’re still figuring things out, so should we move forward without it?

Any way you slice it there are way too many brand models out there. But the same could be said for strategy, change management, business planning, customer experience… basically pick an advisory area and someone somewhere will have planted their own little flag.

And the question for this week is not unusual as absolutism abounds for the creators – you’ve got to do it their way or things just won’t work.

In a TED talk, Malcolm Gladwell (quoting someone else) said, “To a worm in horseradish the world looks like horseradish.” True too when it comes to someone’s particular model.

Before I go too much further I need to fess up. Of course, yes I have my own brand model. I call it brand foundation. I’ve kept it as minimal as I can and used things the organisation already has (like purpose, values and positioning) to drive it and keep the layers to a minimum. However, it’s still a model – albeit one I try hard not to treat like horseradish.

So back to the question at hand. Yes you can move forward, you are anyway – you’re in business and doing business.

You can even swing back around and adjust and evolve whatever you are doing today. You can try, fail, learn, change and try again as you get to know what you care about and who you are.

You can keep talking to your employees and learning from your customers and incorporating that into what you do and how you do it so you do it better. You can rethink, remessage, and remarket things when you need to.

Here’s what you can’t do. Allow any anybody, anywhere, anytime to stake ownership of the brand you are building or convince you that you can’t do it without their horseradish.

You make the decisions and take the actions. You keep the promises (or not) and there isn’t a brand model out there that can or should take the place of an organisation discovering what it cares about and rigorously and deliberately delivering that every day to keep your promises.

You could say that’s the only jar of horseradish that an organisation needs in their cupboard!

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Don’t miss the opportunity to get your brand questions answered by posting them on twitter @michelhogan or emailing me at [email protected].

See you next week with (your question here).

Michel is an independent brand analyst 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 a blog at michelhogan.com.

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Michel Hogan

Michel Hogan is an independent brand thinker and adviser dedicated to helping you make promises you can keep and keep the promises you make — with a strong, resilient organisation and brand as the result. You can find Michel at michelhogan.com.

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