Photo by Tim Arterbury on Unsplash

No Brand Can Be Everything

Brands fail when they try to be everything. And even though we can easily tell the difference between brands that know who they are and brands that don’t, developing your own brand can seem random and uncontrolled. Let’s see if we can arrive at some clarity.

“The World Needs You As You Are.”

And it can seem scary to choose just one thing and “pigeonhole” yourself. But the most effective brands discipline themselves toward their true identity.

But how? We look around and see weak brands that refuse to mean anything to us. This makes us think that it’s hard to brand, or that it’s just a black box that nobody really understands except for the marketing wizards who want to wow me with some cool images and take my money.

But much of that hollowness we see in many brands has more to do with a failure to focus than the fact that branding is random. Branding is only as random as your organization is. In other words, brands with a single focus tend to make more sense — much faster— than brands without a single focus.

In other words, brands fail when they try to be everything.

Here at Resound, we can be much more optimistic about branding, since we do it every day. And we want to share that optimism with you.

Because we think it’ll clarify branding for you. Because we think you don’t have to be a marketing wizard to understand it. And because we think, as we say at Resound, “The World Needs You As You Are.”

Why it matters:

“The central problem of brand-building is getting a complex organization to execute a simple idea.” ~ Marty Neumeier

Let’s start with a little review. Great brands demand your engagement, not because you have to, but because you want to.

  • Great brands help you find yourself. Like a good friend, a great brand has attributes that you want…things you admire…that show you something you didn’t know before and that help you express or appreciate something new and maybe even take that experience deeper. Think of experience brands, like Disney. They take you to a different place, showing you pieces of yourself through story, experience and how you enjoy it.
  • Great brands encourage you to be your best. Ideally, brands help you to be your best by showing you what’s possible and maybe even telling you how. Software might show you how to do things more efficiently in a way that transcends clicks and automation. Apple is obviously a great example of this.
  • Great brands save you time and money by giving you someone trustworthy to buy from. This is the most applicable of all the ways brand contributes to your life. Like a friend who consistently shows competence and faithfulness in a particular area, a brand builds a track record and reputation that earns them trust. And you don’t just trust it because of your experience; you trust it because of everyone else’s consistent experience as well.
  • Simply advertising can’t overcome a bad brand, because hypocrites are extremely newsworthy. For example, if you’re trying to tell everyone you care about privacy, but all you do is sell their data, everyone’s gonna know, and everyone’s gonna care. Because you’re a hypocrite, and everyone’s gonna call you out. And the harder you try to advertise the opposite, the more you’ll call attention to yourself as a hypocrite.

But how do you develop a great brand?

  • Bring purpose to the front. A purpose reveals and gives context to passion. And when that becomes fully developed, the brand then inspire others with its passion and energy.
  • Define your values. Great brands take a stand because of predetermined values. Why can’t you just feel out your values in the moment? Because you need to have those sorted out before you have to make decisions. And you need to be able to explain those values to those who are executing your mission in the day-to-day. The best brands build the conversation around values so that they become well-defined in the culture and, therefore, in interactions with clients.
  • Live them out, even when it’s not sexy or exciting. This means making plans and taking pains to create the processes and rituals that guard against laziness in living out your values and purpose.
  • Bonus: Execute. Great brands execute and improve. Not for the sake of winning, but for the sake of excellence. Winning doesn’t always mean doing better than someone else But it usually involves the sacrifice that comes with overcoming obstacles that were previously too hard.

Move Forward with Focus

We wrote this article to help you understand the “why.” And now that you’re thinking about that, you’re much more capable of leading a rebrand and possibly building your own process. And this is good. A formal process can bring order, discipline, and predictability to the branding process. If you’re thinking of doing a rebrand in the near future, you now maybe have a little more confidence and swagger moving into this kind of project.

If you’re already curious about how the process looks (the basics are here), stay tuned for a more practical post we’ll be rolling out later this month. Either that or bug us via email and maybe we’ll send it to you special. You never know.

And if you’re just wanting to get started, of course you can reach out via our contact form and we’ll be in touch right away.