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The Hypocrisy of Branding (Moo)

The Hypocrisy of Branding (Moo)

If we practiced what we preached, we’d stop calling it brand.

The center of what branding is has been completely lost with all the ideas and thoughts and opinions about what we all think a brand is. We keep putting new layers around it, on top of the latest thought, hardly ever listening to what came before it. We’ve created a giant rubber brand ball.

Imagine you’re in the naming business before the ubiquitous use of the word “brand.” You’re really good at naming, like Nancy Friedman.

A client wants you to name a concept. You require and receive a naming brief. The client even gives you a model, like this gem. Essentially the concept involves uncovering, articulating, managing, delivering, and facilitating discussions about an enterprise’s or person’s story.

The client tells you it’s a collection of integrated strategies and subsequent activities that, in part, identifies an enterprise or person. It compels people to align with it, purchase it, hire it, visit it. It’s built on aligning the core values, mission, and vision of the stakeholders. It integrates the economic logic, market positioning, and product/service porfolio of the enterprise. And turns all of that into something inspiring. Succinct. Engaging. Remarkable.

If you started from such a strategic approach, I wager brand wouldn’t have made it through the first few brainstorming sessions. If it did, you might be fired. Maybe @fritinancy can give us the entomology, but my sense is that the client would have responded with something like:

Well, we like some of the work here. But doesn’t brand simply imply a mark? Put on something by someone else without much of a dialog? I’m picturing a cow being held down against its will. And doesn’t it imply a negative stigma? And isn’t it static, like when you permanently burn something with an iron? We need something much more flexible. I’m also picturing cowboys and dusty ranches. We need something… I don’t know… more forward thinking.

Brand has evolved without much thought to the word that describes it. It’s as if Sony had stuck with Sony Records. Flight Attendant with Stewardess. InDesign with PageMaker.

I find there to be more than a bit of irony in the fact that brand is a terrible brand. A bad word, too many connotations. It takes too much time explaining to potential clients what branding is. It’s ineffective.

Who’s up for re-branding branding?

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