Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Face Behind the Brand

I wrote on my Technorati post about Pan Am and the fact that the image of the brand may diverge sharply from the reality of it.
In today’s web-connected, socially-networked world the issue of brand’s and their meaning are popular topics. Have a bricks and mortar company - what is your social-media brand? Looking for a job – what does your on-line persona reveal about your personal brand? Looking for an entrepreneurial opportunity – what niches are still wide-open to a strong brand presence? How can we enhance our brand using Facebook? LinkedIn? Google+?
Once Upon a Time...
There was a local phone company who would try and cross-sell on every call made to them. “I didn’t get my bill this month…we’re sorry sir, we’ll send that right out, and would you like to use our voicemail service?”  “The repairman didn’t show up…we’re sorry sir, would you like to use our long-distance plan?”
My wife had the misfortune of talking to them once, and they said that based on an analysis of our phone bill we would save money by going to Calling Plan X. So we did, and it cost us 50% more for the next two months! Switching back over led to another cross-sell, and they refused to refund the extra cash they snookered out of us through their bogus “analysis”.
They Got What Was Coming To Them
Local phone service opened up for competitive providers, and needless to say we jumped at the chance to switch from Bait-and-Switch Telephone Co. And for an idyllic period of time we lived in a world without cross-selling, self-serving “analysis”, and phone company evils of all sorts.
In addition, the service we were using was from a company with a great brand going back a long-way. The Pan Am of phone companies. What a glorious world we live in!
But Who Gets The Last Laugh?
Meanwhile, back on the ranch, everything is fine until…Evil Bait and Switch buys Pan Am Phone – and takes their name and logo!
To this very day, I sometimes need to recite in my head when I catch myself seeing Pan Am Phone’s name and logo:
“they are not Pan Am Phones, they are Evil Bait and Switch”
“they are not Pan Am Phones, they are Evil Bait and Switch”
“they are not Pan Am Phones, they are Evil Bait and Switch”
Perform Brand Due Diligence – Vigilantly, Regularly, Faithfully
Brand image is powerful. Madison Avenue has lasted as long as it has because brands can invoke positive feelings, imagery, associations, and other valuable reactions within us.
But when the brands are sold on the auction block, we must be very wary. They will tell us, as Oz did to Dorothy and her entourage, “do not pay attention to that man behind the curtain”, but we must ignore that and pay very careful attention. Very, very careful attention indeed.
The brand we love may no longer be what we believe it to be. It may have lost its soul. It may have been traded for a quick buck. As consumers, we are loyal to brands. But every so often we need to make a dispassionate assessment though the lens of clarity to decide whether they are still worthy of us.
Each of us is special. Each of us is unique. The brands we choose to identify with, promote, honor, and cherish need to be just as worthy.
We cannot afford to compromise our integrity for those who believe they can buy us on the auction block, or trick us through cheap magic.
I would love to hear your thoughts about the Face Behind the Brand or your stories on this topic if you have them.
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3 comments:

  1. Great post David. As much as companies promote their brands, without substance, they can quickly find their brand tarnished. Buyer beware is now open forum with social media.

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  2. Maddie,

    You are spot on with that phrase "buyer beware".

    This post was written as much for myself as anyone else - there are plenty of brands that I like where I could not even begin to tell you what they have been up to lately.

    Caveat Emptor (as they say in Rome) - thanks for the comments!

    Dave W.

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