In his book “Culture Making,” Andy Crouch makes the premise that Christians talk a lot about changing culture, but ultimately, to change the culture, we have to make better culture. In other words, stop talking about it and start making better stuff – movies, TV programs, online projects, books, music, art, etc…
I thought about that recently in the context of branding. Since I wrote the book “Unique,” a lot of potential clients come to me asking our team to “brand them.” They want to discover what their brand identity should be and want an answer right now. I understand their concern, but the process doesn’t work that way.
First, branding isn’t what we say it is – it’s what they say it is. In other words, while we try our best to shape the message and story that surrounds a person, project, or organization, it’s ultimately what happens in the mind of the audience or consumer that matters. The big question is: “What do they think of when they think of you?”
So at Cooke Media Group, although we often do a brand evaluation – the evaluation is most effective at discovering what’s wrong with the existing brand – if there is one.
Then – we create a new story by creating stuff – a new logo design, a new website, television spot or program, digital media, and more. Obviously, we shape the story as we go, but the truth is having a “brand” doesn’t matter if you don’t have a presence in the marketplace. Sometimes, developing that brand story takes a long time and happens as a process.
Branding being a “strategy” is a limited way of thinking. Today, branding is action. It happens in the process of creating new projects. It’s the residue of innovation. One non-profit organization spent $250,000 developing a “brand strategy” and ended up with a 400 page report they had absolutely no idea what to do with. Branding is not a religion – it’s a tool.
Which would you rather have? A compelling presence in the marketplace, or a 400 page report?
Branding is about doing. It’s organic, and can only be discovered through creating new products, ideas, and projects.