I once heard legendary film director John Huston say something to the effect, “Great movie directing should be invisible. If someone in the audience ever tells you how great a particular shot is, then you’ve failed, because you’ve distracted them from the story.” Huston knew great shooting was there to enhance the film story, never to call attention to itself. I feel the same way about branding.
In my book Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media, I share that branding and identity are tools to help a product, person, or organization connect with an audience. An effective brand story is a way to cut through the media clutter and get your message heard. The ultimate point of course is to sell more products, get your message out there, or create name recognition.
The problem is, some consultants and branding “experts” get it backwards. To them, the brand process is such a big deal, they lose sight of the end result. I spoke to a C.E.O. just the other day who had just finished a particularly long and drawn out branding procedure and ended up with a 250 page branding report. He looked at me and said, “Now what am I supposed to do with this thing?”
The branding company might have been good. (They certainly were thorough.) But they lost their perspective. No matter how great the brand result is, if the organization doesn’t know how to use it, or it’s too murky to figure out, you’ve failed. That’s why at Cooke Media Group, we’ve streamlined the process. Where others take months, we take weeks. Where others go through a detailed process, we get to the point. Our goal isn’t to wallow in the trenches of the brand, our goal is to use the brand to get results.
Don’t make branding an idol. It’s important (hey – I wrote a book on it), but it’s not the end. Discovering your brand story should change the way you do everything in your organization. It’s not an end – it’s a means to an end. Never forget it’s not about the brand, it’s about the results.