February 20th, 2012
It is all-too common for a company to create and disseminate its brand, and then let it run like a wild horse. Why? Corporate politics, turf wars, egos, and incompetence.
This is my only explanation for GEICO’s unending onslaught of inexplicable, inconsistent, unfathomable, torturous, irrelevant spots: an irritating brand about nothing … and a giant waste of shareholder cash.
Letting a brand run like a wild horse is amateurish — even if it works — because audiences are fickle, inattentive, and mercilessly bombarded with indistinguishable competing brands.
Making audiences wade through this sea of white noise, by failing to continuously tune your brand, is an unforgivable sin — resulting in minimized or delayed purchases, investments, and word of mouth, and increased costs of these lifelines, respectively.
A good marketer knows, in advance, when a brand will resonate with customers, investors, and media pros — through visceral feel and experience. Besides, he can modify it over time through continuous testing and tuning, or scrap it if it falls flat.
No Room for a Tin Ear
In fact, branding is akin to a musical recital: no room for a tin ear. For those obsessed with and rewarded for managing audience satisfaction, the tuning regimen is a big part of daily life.
When experiencing the virtuoso performances of Vladimir Horowitz, one is struck not only by his style and accuracy but also by his piano’s perfect pitch.
Had his music — his message — emanated from an out-of-tune Steinway, he would have irritated his audience, sullied his brand, and ended his career.
The tuning fork and piano tuner were, then, as integral to Horowitz’s success as his skill. As Marshall McLuhan once said, the medium is the message.
According to Steinway & Sons: No matter how expertly a piano is tuned, atmospheric variations and the nature of the piano’s construction constantly conspire to bring it off-pitch. So, “set it and forget it” doesn’t cut it. Bottom line: always be ready to tune it.
By the same token, no matter how expertly your brand is tuned (or how expertly you think it is tuned), market and industry variations and the nature of its construction constantly conspire to bring it off-pitch. Again, “set it and forget it” doesn’t cut it. Bottom line: always be ready to tune it.
Rx from the WhiteNoise Doctor™
Don’t stare at your tuning fork; channel Horowitz.
Vladimir Horowitz died in 1989, but imagine he’s alive today. Would he appear at Carnegie Hall, hoping and assuming that his piano is still in-tune since yesterday’s concert? Of course not. The medium is the message; it must be perfectly tuned.
When to tune your brand? Now. Tonight. Tomorrow. Always keep that tuning fork handy; your audience is listening. Finally, beware the discordant brand-killers: corporate politics, turf wars, egos — and anyone with a tin ear.
About the Author
Marc Rudov is a branding advisor to CEOs,
producer of MarcRudovTV, and author of the book,
Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO’s Guide to Branding.
© 2012 Marc H. Rudov. All Rights Reserved.