The desire to fiddle and other enemies of building a brand

What are the enemies of building a brand? The desire to fiddle, resistance, and the doldrums.

The first one – the desire to fiddle – might feel counterintuitive. After all it’s via all the stuff you do that you build the brand. And while yes that’s true, for it to work you’ve got to do that stuff aligned around a core purpose and values.

And that’s the bit you shouldn’t fiddle with.

I’m a long-time yoga practitioner and the best advice from teachers over the years has been to stay in the pose and be still. When you’re constantly adjusting and moving you might feel like you’re making progress, but it’s only when you’re still that you can feel where things aren’t aligned; where there’s a knot of tension or tightness that you can then work on.

Brands are similar. There has to be a period where you’re doing that deep work to find the core and then once you feel like you have it, you need to be still for a while. Observe what you’ve uncovered so you can feel any areas that need more work.

Once you’ve got the core, you get down to the real work of building brand – that everyday stuff I always talk about. And even in that the urge to tweak will return, especially when what you’re working on doesn’t neatly align to the core right away.

Because I guarantee if you’ve been in business for a while and are just doing this work, there will be things you do and ways you do them in place that won’t align right away. How could they? They were put in place before you had the insight you have now. They’re not wrong. They just don’t align with the brand you’re building.

It’s easy here to think that it’s the core that needs to be tweaked. This is where so many organisations sacrifice opportunity for expediency – the opportunity to achieve true alignment. Taking the expedient path and leaving things in place that don’t align will just result in empty-shirt promises you can’t keep.

Which brings me to that second enemy of building a brand: resistance. Because if you’re doing the deep work and ignoring what’s convenient for what’s aligned, there will be resistance to doing things in an aligned way that might not be the way you’ve done them before.

If you’re using purpose and values as yardsticks for thinking and actions, there will be resistance. If you’re sticking with what you care about and not changing or tweaking it because someone else is doing something others think is great, there will be resistance.

To build a brand is to wage a daily war against resistance. It can feel like an ongoing battle. But it’s a battle worth fighting and just when you see the benefits emerging, the last enemy emerges to try its luck.

The last in my shortlist of enemies is the doldrums. The doldrums bide their time, waiting until the first rush of energy that comes from finding what’s core has passed, until things are working smoothly and the hard choices have been made. When the zing had dimmed, that’s when the doldrums strike.

A desire starts to build. Figuring out how to align the supply chain to purpose and make it more efficient at the same time just isn’t cutting it. You want something bright and shiny and new. It’s human, the rush we get from new – whole economies are built on it.

Surely just a tweak wouldn’t hurt? Which brings us back to enemy number one …

There are lots of things you can and should do when building a brand – I talk about them all the time. The hidden enemies of building a brand are harder to see. But then enemies are often insidious in that way.

So keep an eye out for these three enemies: the desire to fiddle, resistance, and the doldrums. And you’ll vastly improve your chances of building a brand that is resilient and will last.

See you next week when I’ll be taking a look at why authenticity misses the point.

Michel 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 or you can follow her on Twitter @michelhogan


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