Ten bedtime stories
May 27, 2009
Ten bedtime stories
We want to be well. Immediately, effortlessly, we look for the simplest, most convenient, cheapest and fastest solution to solve a problem. We do so in most respects. First and foremost we play the lottery. We look for quick weight loss recipes and we only eat salad for a month. We light up candles at the church and we wait for our wish to be fulfilled. We adopt a positive mindset and we start visualizing our ideal car in front of our new villa. We do so many useful things! Then, why don’t we get what we want ?! It is time to investigate the causes and underpinnings of the problem, starting from our own attitudes towards success.
As brand professionals, we are often asked for advice on various brand issues, and we inevitably run into previous failed attempts.
- Ignoring the problem. Ouch, it hurts! The beginning is absolutely simple, you identify a wound, a notch that festers – the sales of your products have decreased. Choose the most convenient solution: you treat it by yourself: you put a patch of rivanol, without cleaning the wound before, hoping that it would heal naturally. It might work that way. You get the cheapest version. Eventually, you raise the prices in order to make up for the loss.
- Imitation interventions. Oh no, it is swelling! You start to doubt yourself a little bit and you accept the fact that you may not really know what you are doing. You even start to ask your neighbours what they would do or what they have done in similar cases and ask for a recommendation that would heal you. But the recipe that worked in a particular case does not work in your situation. You invest money in advertising, but your packaging remains old and unnoticed on the shelf.
- Clear repairs. The problem becomes recurrent, the wound has become chronic, and the healing process does not happen. Only at this point you become worried, the situation is more serious now and you cannot keep it under control. The market never forgives, it has its rules. Sales are in free-fall: you decide it’s time to go to a brand doctor, who for a few euros will offer you, let’s say, a cosmetic image, a good enough care treatment. For a while. In the meantime, you are increasing the price again.
- Seeking professional advice quickly. Hello, it hurts! I need a piece of advice, if possible as simple as possible, as soon as possible, on the phone. A new competitor has appeared on the shelf, it has a large, round package, what should I do? In-store promotion or do I need advertising schemes?! Things are seen in a simplistic way, a random counterattack is required. You hope that there will be an instant solution. But the stock is growing and the solution is simple, you look for another deposit.
- Not paying attention while consulting the specialist. The moment in which consulting is required is already a big step. You are now taking the problem to the doctor. You bring the brochure, the leaflets, the presentation folder and possibly the product packaging. The problem is only briefly stated and a raw, minimal solution is expected, which could rectify the situation. Maybe you would need a new sales presenter ?!
- Not taking into consideration the advice. Okay, I truly have a more complicated problem. But I do not think it is a very serious one. The principle ”I know I need something, but, basically, just tell me briefly what I should do” comes into play – an attitude that can also be translated in: ”I don’t want a branding strategy, sir, I don’t need that, I only need a label on a piece of soap because I can no longer sell it without it. Just tell me what label to put!”. As if the client could – maybe he/she will actually do this! – buy those labels from a supermarket and apply them on the product.
- Ditching payment. It costs me! Branding is considered to be expensive. The search and bidding for the least expensive advice in terms of resources, money and time begin. They negotiate for a long time. The signing of the contract is postponed. They try to get free advice because it hurts a lot now, I really need a flyer, a poster, a doctor’s bandage – until I recover financially. Eventually, I pay a part of the sum in advance, I get some insights and then I make it seem like I forgot about the rest of the payment.
- Harmful intrusion. After they accept the price, another type of attitude appears: ”I need an identity, but I want it to be either blue or red, I am not interested in so many analyzes, strategies and concepts – I don’t understand, we really can’t do something simply blue + red ?! And it should have a triangle in the middle, a little bigger, yes. I think maybe we can put another line below. How? It isn’t good ?! Why shouldn’t I want the same thing that the others have !? I am the only one who pays!”
- Laxity in applying the rules. After having a fresh identity and a new strategy, the client implements them the way he thinks it’s right. There are still a few cars branded with the previous identity that are circulating in the city. At some locations, the products are sold with the old packaging. And maybe an advertisement is also made. They pay a local radio station to broadcast it, without telling the ad’s producer about the existence of a brand concept or about the strategically established communication direction.
- Violation of the imposed rules. Alone again! ”I feel like I have been healed. What would it be like to do an end-of-the-year promotional action? It cannot hurt me! It’s just a mascot promotion, it will increase my traffic and it will bring me money right away!” Well, you have just killed so many efforts to position yourself, increase your notoriety and create awareness around your brand. My wife wants a mascot, what’s wrong with that? Even Michelin has one!
There are no magical solutions to save the brand. It is a great utopia to believe that you can break through the market, that you can touch the heart of the public and defeat your opponents by going headfirst – without using any strategy and only by applying sporadic measures when encountering problems. At best you win a battle, but without long-term tactics, you might lose the war. Sooner or later, you will come back and you will adopt a truly functional strategy that you can apply without any deviation.