Malcolm Gladwell famously alerted us all to the 10,000 hours of practice it takes to get really good at something. And I don’t see why building a brand is exempt from that rule.
Brand is not an event, it’s a result. It’s a result of the constant doing of things that keeps your promises by everyone in your organisation. Sure if only the marketing guys are practising the building then it’s going to take a while before you get good at it. But if everyone in the organisation gets in on the act then those hours are going to rack up pretty fast!
Think of any great organisation and their brand. It didn’t happen overnight. There was no magic spell, comic book bam or single sparkling event. GE, IBM, Coca Cola, Apple, Google… even Google, the baby of the group, has 15 years or 132k hours of practice under their belts.
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This is one of the hardest things for young organisations to accept. Sure you’ve got a killer name, a cool logo and a product or service ready to go. You’ve had a flash of initial success. A write up in the what’s hot section of a magazine. OK, great. Now you’ve got to “do the work” (to quote Steven Pressfield). Even when you don’t feel like it. Even when that thin stick is not going up the hill so easily. Even when things are going well and it feels like it’s all working. Keep doing the work.
What’s the work you need to do? I can’t tell you that. It will be different for every organisation depending on what you stand for and what you make, sell or give away. It might be staying on top of product quality. It might be looking for new products to build. It might be building relationships with others in your area so you can partner on things. It’s probably all of those and about 100 or 1000 other things besides.
Doing the work to build the brand is not a guarantee of success, but I do guarantee you won’t succeed for the long haul if you don’t. Great brands are the result of lots of things all coming together in alignment over a long period. And behind all those things is a constant, sustained, deliberate and conscious effort.
You can’t outsource that.
You can’t expect someone else to tell you what it needs to be.
You can’t assign it to the marketing department.
You can’t say “no one will notice” or “that won’t matter” – they do and it will.
You can’t ignore the pieces and people who don’t quite fit in.
You can’t forget that you’ve got to have money to stay in business – even if you’re a not for profit.
You can’t make promises you can’t keep to get that money – nothing will knock down what you’re building faster.
Brand is not an event. It is a result. And you can do the work!
See you next week.
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. You can follow Michel on Twitter @michelhogan