What are you trying to say?

“The consumer is not an idiot. You can’t, by and large, brand crap.”

Tom Peters, The BrandYou50

How much of the material produced to reflect you or your firm is WOW, memorable or gasp-worthy?

Does it leave you feeling: “OMG what an amazing piece of design etc.”

Design is not just branding but so little thought is given to the emotional connection of a business card, a brochure, a pamphlet or even such mundane things as the carpet at the entrance to your offices. But design has the power to move, to inspire and leaves an impression that no amount of free offers or half-baked marketing guff can live up to.

If you must talk branding then make sure you know the effect you are aiming for. So often the idea is to give your offering a re-work but without thinking through the effect that that will have on your target audience. A new colour in that corner, a new font in the other and a whole slew of word deviations swirling around in the middle. Confusion … is the order of the day.

The likelihood is that you and 10,000 other firms all want the same thing – middle of the road – and is it any wonder then, you all end up with a dull, grey feel? Think at the edges of your service, not the middle.

You refuse to change the firm name but I wonder how many of you have asked your clients: “What do you think?” and then done something about it? In my experience, the name matters far less than the other touch points of marketing, service delivery and the people who are engaged behind the service.

Your brand won’t dig you out of a hole of mediocrity. If your service is Ho Hum then having lots of pretty colours, a new font and some uniforms won’t make a jot of difference. Instead let the emotional connection – service, people or product led – drive the equation.

Next time someone mentions the idea of branding, pin them down on the specifics. What are they talking about? Chances are they are stuck on the name of the firm and haven’t thought about your core values, if you deliver on your service promises and the way people, internally and externally, perceive the firm. These are far more powerful than any amount of tinkering with a brand.

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