I hate the word brand

Posted on December 13, 2010

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So, I’m talking to a colleague who has just asked me for the top ten rules on brand engagement inside businesses and to be quite honest I just put my head in my hands, slumped forward and let out an exasperated “oh I don’t know.” 

I think I do know, and after 30 minutes he had eked out quite a few points, but what is it about this whole internal brand engagement thing that is causing the exasperation. Is it just December, or is it because I hate the word “brand”. I think it’s the latter I’m afraid to say. 

In the good old days brands were simple. They were ads and logos. Then some clever clogs rightly said they were more than that; they were about price and place and sponsorship and a whole hosts of other things. Then we muddied the waters more by saying that brands are about people, about behaviours and about the decisions people take day to day. They are pretty complex things brands.

The only problem is that if you ask the average Joe or Josephine what their favourite brand is then they will still talk in logos and products – they’ll say they love those Apple adverts and they love the iPad – they’ll talk about the tangibles and not the intangibles. And it’s the intangibles that the people about.

So, don’t be surprised if employees get confused when they are asked to live the brand. Live a logo? Dress up as an iPad? The brand word should be banned. Far better to talk about reputation. If I ask myself what I can do to protect the reputation of my business then I know what to do – but ask me what I can do to live the brand and my mind is a bloody muddle.

And that is why I hate the word brand (and love it at the same time). 

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