3 Little Words for Branding Success
I recently interviewed Bob Domenz, CEO of Avenue, a B2B brand strategy and activation firm, as part Branding Magazine’s Branding Roundtable on Rebranding. One of the questions was “What are the most common causes of failure in rebranding?” The first three causes he proffered certainly rang true:
First, “not having the direct involvement of the CEO and leadership; Second, not deeply involving the customer and customer insights in the process. [and] Third, approaching the rebranding initiative as just a logo and advertising change.” But it was the fourth that grabbed my attention, both for its economy of phrasing and its simple truth:
“Fourth – and most important – is getting your ‘Be.Do.Say.’ out of order. In other words, not aligning your market promise with the actions of the company and your ability to deliver.” Yes that will sink you. Conversely, getting your “Be.Do. Say” in the right order can also make you rise above the competition.
In a branding world that loves to beat buzzwords like “authentic” into meaningless pulp, here was a clear simple set of actions, not postures, that marketers can and must take to create successful brands, whether in repositioning or from scratch.
Number one: Be. Be something meaningfully different.
As Austin McGhie of Sterling Brands said in the same Roundtable, “You need to be willing to be truly different.” There’s that challenge, to not only pretend to have a purpose, but actually inhabit a meaningful reason for being. A brand must be, really and truly, what it claims.
Number two: Do. Start with brand actions, then whip out the fancy words.
Brand bluster has been turning consumers off for years. Rather than create your brand promise and positioning and then start talking about it, first bring the promise to self-evident life. Think of concrete ways you can demonstrate, rather than describe, what makes your brand different and better. This may mean innovation in product design or features, or an investment in special customer service. But when you do good things, people say good things about you (first and foremost to themselves, a key aspect of loyalty-building). And it’s much better to have the “saying” begin with the most important third-party experts, your customers.
Number three: Say. Only start brand communications when your brand can honestly be what it says it is.
Even then, it’s best to only say what is necessary, so as not to drown out other, more credible voices (to see whose words consumers truly trust, take a look at this recent survey).
Be. Do. Say. Three little words. One big brand impact. (I only wish that I had originated the phrase.)