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Good branding is a (ah hem) croc

Good branding is a (ah hem) croc

Every now and then we’re reminded that the Niwot, Colorado-based fashion company Crocs is about to die. On their last legs in 2009, a failed brand 2010. This comes around every now and then for Crocs. I guess the remarkable aesthetic of their first shoe has polarized them in our minds. Which is a good thing for a brand if you want people to talk about it.

We respond to these predictions of Croc’s demise predictably. Like any other kind of polarizing thing. Sara Palin has nothing or everything to offer. Nothing in between.

Crocs isn’t dying at all, of course. They weren’t in 2009 and they aren’t today. Seems like they’re kinda like their namesake. One of the more adaptable companies around.

Business strategy, it’s been said, is like working with hypotheses. You do research before you try something, but in a market-driven context there’s no real way to test it very thoroughly until the market gives your hypothesis some feedback.

I wrinkle my brow a bit when branding and marketing experts craft brand strategies that they claim will cause action. Ideas that don’t just sound good on paper, but can be executed toward causing an action.

Because you won’t really know if it engages people to act until you put it in the market. You can do your research, but you’ll never know until the market responds.

Maybe it’s better to use the world “intent” more often in our brand development. It’s more authentic and honors the investment our clients make with our ideas.

A brand is a living thing (just like any other strategic decision in business). Especially one that’s created from scratch. It has to respond, move, adjust, and flex.

When making the brand come alive then, it logically follows that listening simply has to be a part of the plan. From the beginning. If you aren’t listening, how will you test your hypothesis and make the necessary adjustments? Imagine a financial strategy that wasn’t responsive to the market. Listening, seems to me, is today’s most critical brand discipline.

If you agree with any of this, then you’re probably highly invigorated by today’s social web. There’s never been a better time for listening. It’s like a big fat book of Listening for Dummies. If you aren’t invigorated by our new reality, then you’re probably just broadcasting for your clients.

And that’s the work of dinosaurs. Not a croc.

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