The real brand gap

I ended last year talking about brand, but its a topic that never gets old for me. I get lots of email newsletters from different publications, and I always end up frustrated when there are articles about brand. Early last year one came from Anthill about the “Brand Gap”.

This is a pretty well-known book that has become a presentation (in fact the presentation is just a capture of the book pages) that many hold up as a great forward leap in thinking about brand.

I am sure it won’t be any big surprise to many of you that I have to disagree. Sure, there are parts of it that resonate and make sense, but it misses on the real brand gap that exists.

According to the book a brand is “a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organisation” and I can’t disagree with that. Where we diverge somewhat, is how you get to that feeling.

In my world its pretty simple: brand is the result of what you believe and what your actions show. And so when you add all that up there is a feeling that comes from the result. Trouble is that for many, those things just don’t align and so the feeling is not what was intended.

I’ve talked about this before but I want to take a different track and suggest a radical concept that I’ve been working on: what if there were different schools of thought about brand?

This is the real brand gap. We spend too much time arguing about what brand really means, where it fits and how to best use it in your organisation. But just as there are different ways of thinking about strategy, process and management, so to there can be different ways of thinking about brand. Art has been doing it for centuries. Strategy, management and leadership all have many competing theories that have validity depending on the type of organisation you are. Even how you company is structured can be modelled in any number of ways.

So why on earth should brand be binary?

If you are building a company to flip in a few years and what you need is quick visibility and lots of buzz, then focusing on a long-term sustainable brand makes no sense. On the opposing side, if you want to be around for 100 years, then making sure that brand is a critical and aligned piece of your core business will be the best way to go.

The trouble with the “my size fits all” view of brand is that it doesn’t sync up with business reality. It’s time people who work with companies on brand stop arguing about who’s definition of brand is the “right one” and fess up that their approach might not be what is needed.

I’ll start.

I call my view of brand “Authentic Brand” and it is built by aligning the beliefs and actions of your organisation… but there are other ways of looking at it.

Alignment is Michel’s passion. Through her work with Brandology here in Australia, and Brand Alignment Group in the United States, she helps organisations align who they are, with what they do and say to build more authentic and sustainable brands.


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