Its often said that when it comes to branding, marketing & advertising, almost everyone and his cronies, near and dear ones and the entire social network of the individual has an opinion. Why does this happen and what actually causes this sense of uber confidence is yet unknown but prevail it does with alarming regularity causing both angst & irritation amongst brand building professionals who obviously see things from a completely different pair of lens. Especially if they are focused on Excellence!
I got tempted to write this after a 3 hour long meeting with one client a few weeks ago which nearly convinced me that more than half the world’s population or even more are branding experts. Some even gurus. The topic in question at the meeting was the launch of a fashion brand in a completely new geography. The brand is an unknown commodity in that market and we thought the best way to introduce it was to bring in a sense of local culture whilst pushing forth the international aura and chutzpah. The brand’s life cycle was embryonic at best and therefore the need of the hour (or so we felt) was to create something that captivates attention, is not intimidating but inviting and eases people into the acceptance of the brand. The brand was being given birth to that also coincided with the launch in that market, so our strategy and creative thought process was completely influenced and motivated by those circumstances.
Upon presenting the creative concepts that were conceptualised for use in Print, Outdoor, OOH and Television, the feedback that we received was nothing short of rudimentary. In fact, downright shocking. Without actually saying so, what the client was communicating was that we know this better and this is the way we want it. The suggestion given was illogical to say the least and upon probing (we just can’t suffer it silently and gladly you see), we were asked to benchmark our creative communication campaign ‘ on the lines of another leading established brand in the category ‘- was it exactly an apples to apples situation? Far from it- the established brand was in the market for more than 25 years and had gained significant foothold and respect in that category through strategic brand equity development adequately supported by the product that satiated people’s faith and confidence in the brand. And this brand had not even stepped onto Mother Earth yet.
Since we respect all our client’s views and work closely with all of them as their brand guardians and custodians, there was a sense of disbelief and disappointment that enveloped the entire team working on the brand. Its not as if to say that our work should or will always be accepted. Not in the least. We do have only realistic expectations (and we always encourage dissonance, debate and disruption that resonates with the big picture realization) but what took the wind out of our sails was the irrationality of it all. One way to look at the situation was to accept the perception (we just can’t call it fact because it is not true) that the client knows best and he is always right. Or the other way to address this was to go back and make a rejuvenated and fresh attempt at re calibrating the client’s psyche, however obstinate he may be. The endeavor at our end continues.
What is it that makes seriously successful entrepreneurs miss the wood for the trees when it comes to building and growing their brand/s? Is it because they are far too close to the brand that plays with their sense of objectivity leading to only irrational exuberance? Why do perfectly crafted brand building strategies based on empirical and real time, on ground customer/market insight far often get the axe? As brand builders and nourishers, we have many an axe to grind!