Article No :42 | April 4, 2006 | by Richard Mulholland
Few words in the English language are as versatile, as powerful, and as overused as these three.
These words form a new group; dictionaries of the future will speak of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and place-markers. And place-markers will be seen as the last bastion of the vocabulary-challenged. Let me give you an example of what I mean.
As the owner of a presentation company, I can’t begin to tell you the number of presos I’ve been subjected to where a VP of Marketing takes the stage and tells of the importance of the brand, and the staff’s role in building it.
Place-markers will be seen as the last bastion of the vocabulary challenged.
“You are the brand!” is the cry of the day, videos run, theme-songs play, experts motivate, and crowds dance with gay-abandon with their new found passion for the brand, and, of course… nothing changes.
Why? Well, my theory is that these marketers failed to understand the unholy trinity.
You see, “brand” is a word open to much interpretation, a corporate ID executive sees it as the face of the company they designed, HR sees it as the people, marketers see it as the marketing they create, and management thinks it’s the physical manifestation of the mission, vision, and values. This is the problem, in order to build “X”, all your builders need to first understand what “X” is.
And here’s the thing, it ain’t rocket science. Once we realize that the word “brand” is a place-marker, we simply need to find out what we’re replacing. That’s where the unholy trinity comes in.
Catholics believe that there is no difference between God The Father, God The Son, and God The Holy Spirit, to them there’s just God. God is all three, and all three are God, they call this the Holy Trinity.
Similarly in business we have, The (company name) Brand, The (company name) Culture, and the The (company name’s) Customer Experience. Yet all of these simply make up The Company. Like the religious reference above, they’re one and the same.
The word brand is a generic term that I believe should never be used in a non-generic sense. I don’t want people discussing the Missing Link brand (culture, or customer experience) for me, they should only ever be discussing Missing Link. Internally and externally, there is and should be no differentiation.
So marketers, stop telling your staff to “Live the brand!”, start telling them to “Live (your company name here)”. It’s a lot easier to understand, and you’re a lot more likely to get the reaction you desire.