May 1st, 2014
The only way a CEO can make his company unique is to enact and enforce new branding rules. And, every member of the branding team — internal marketing department, all customer-facing employees, external PR firm, and external ad agency — must follow them.
Why the CEO? The CEO is the company’s brander-in-chief. Branding is the #1 priority, just as sharpening the arrowhead is the archer’s #1 priority. Otherwise, the target is rubber.
If need be, the CEO must replace those who don’t or won’t grasp and heed the new rules. Also, the CEO must undergo a personal paradigm shift, because he may have pushed and enabled the old rules — which encouraged widespread use of jargon and the scourge of branding by committee.
Jargon and unique are antithetical and oxymoronic. Remember that.
Producting, Not Marketing
I often peruse marketing help-wanted ads to hunt for new clients and to stay abreast of industry trends. Invariably, I see companies looking for people with SEO expertise and a propensity to “eat, sleep, and love (fill in the blank) technology.” Stop, stop, stop. We’ve located a huge problem.
If one eats, sleeps, and loves technology, she is unfit for marketing and, especially, branding. Why?
As I tell CEOs in Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO’s Guide to Branding, customers don’t buy technology; stop selling it. Stop hiring people who embody it.
We have more technology now than at any time in world history. Yet, our society is more emotionally disconnected, inarticulate, immature, irresponsible, helpless, dependent, rude, and uneducated than it was 50 years ago. Obviously, technology does not solve all problems!
Customers buy solutions and value (peace of mind, coolness, convenience, profitability, or prestige): the end. The end! Technology is no more than an ephemeral means to that end; sometimes, it isn’t even that.
Your marketing team must comprise only those who eat, sleep, and love solving customer problems — and be agnostic to the solutions. One who myopically and emotionally focuses on products is producting, not marketing.
What’s my beef with SEO experts? SEO, or search-engine optimization, is the science of embedding keywords throughout a Website to attract the attention of the Google and Bing search engines. What are these keywords? You guessed it: jargon. Last I checked, search engines aren’t emotional, paying customers.
Have you looked at the typical homepage? It reads like a nutrition label, filled with boring buzzwords. This ain’t branding. Customers don’t react to, remember, and repeat jargon. But, jargon is what SEO experts universally dispense, big time. What’s needed is customer-resonance optimization.
Here’s an image, circulating the Internet, that cleverly makes my point:
Branding Bottom Line
Hire and train people who know what branding is, and isn’t. Avoid product cheerleaders, who engender and cement an inward focus — and don’t be one yourself.
Abolish jargon and replace jargonistas — immediately and permanently.
Branding is the art and science of articulating a unique, concise, memorable, repeatable value proposition — so that customers, investors, and journalists can “get it” in 15 seconds. If your brand doesn’t achieve this, it’s time for new branding rules. Otherwise, everyone in your company (including external channels) will continue to invent and use his own brand, thereby perpetuating chaos and suboptimal valuation.
POSTSCRIPT #1: Germans Bring Back Typewriters to Avoid NSA Spies
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.
© 2014 Marc H. Rudov. All Rights Reserved.