When Mark Earls invited me to join his admirable campaign
to make January "b-word"-free, I had to turn him down – not because I don’t believe in resolutions, but because I try never to use that word.
It refers to nothing more and nothing less than reputation, reputation you earn by your behaviour or, more realistically, reputation which other people (customers or not) confer on you because of that. It’s not something you impose on others.
If you ask people about those reputations, I’m convinced that largely you’ll get a media-literate response (one you increasingly see in focus groups) that reflects their impression of what the advertising has sought to portray. But that is not necessarily a reflection of what the b***** truly is, unless of course you’re asking about a business that doesn’t advertise. And isn't it interesting how often it is those b***** that are lauded by the experts?
If your differentiation is your advertising (rather than your advertising reflecting your differentiation), then you have a big problem. Moroever, using the b word leads to dubious concepts like b***** values
, laughable b***** extensions and, worst of all, branding
As I’ve written before
, it should never have been a verb. It reeks of superficiality, a stamp you put on something to assert its provenance, rather than its indisputable DNA.
So Mark is on the right track, as ever, but I’ll sign up only if he agrees to make this a permanent thing – because this is not a short-term issue, but a long-term failing. When you think in terms of branding you’re explicitly focusing internally on your business, your product and/or your service. But you’re in real danger of not focusing on your customers.
(photo courtesy of gemssty.com)