The Chicken Little Types of Brand Marketing

by Michael Drew on September 13, 2016

Michael Drew · Branding · September 13, 2016

The Chicken Little Types of Brand MarketingIn my last post on Pendulum and business we looked at what branding was not, in today’s WE Cycle.

Here, we’ll look at what Roy H. Williams, my co-author on Pendulum, thinks about branding.

To remind you, Roy H. Williams and I developed our Pendulum theory in researching over 3,000 years of human history, cultural changes, literature, the arts, politics over three millennia noting how social trends shifted and re-shifted.

Roy has spent the last 40 years in advertising and marketing. He’s learned a few things along the way. Here’s what he says about branding:

How much do your name, logo and color scheme really matter?

A schmuck falls off the balcony on the 30th floor.

A putz is the guy he lands on.

A putz is passively stupid; ridiculously unlucky.

Could a company succeed with a name like Putzmeister?

Could a company win if its logo was indistinctive and boring and literally gray?

Putzmeister was founded by Karl Schlecht in 1958. Today it employs 3,900 people who produce more than $ 1.5 billion in annual sales in 154 countries on five continents, name and logo and color be damned.

The sum $1.5 billion, by the way, is 1,500 x 1,000. Fifteen hundred million.

Just sayin’.

Wal-Mart may have the dumbest name in the history of the world. “My name is Walton, so I’ll call the store Wal-Mart.” Really? And yet he became so rich that just six of his descendants are worth more today than the combined net worth of 30% of our nation. That’s right, a tiny company begun in 1962 with an idiotic name and a drab logo and an unimaginative color scheme became the most successful retail empire in the history of the world in less than 30 years.

And they never bothered to change the name or the logo.

I meet Chicken Little advertising people every day who squeal, “the sky is falling” over names and colors and logos.

Color is a language. It definitely matters. A little.

Shape is a language. It can contradict or reinforce your choice of colors. Shape matters. A little.

Product and company names are words that carry conscious and unconscious associations. They absolutely matter.

But what matters most of all is what matters to the customer.

Customers who buy from your competitors aren’t choosing your competitors because they have better logos. Customers care about things like products and procedures and policies that might affect them. They care about your offers and assurances. They care about the experience you create for them. Logos? Not so much.

Will your prospective customers be glad they chose you? Yes? How are you communicating this? What do you offer as evidence? Testimonials are suspect. Bold promises sound like advertising-speak. What are you doing to give your prospective customer real confidence that choosing you is the right thing to do?

You need a consultant because you have a blind spot.

(If you knew what this was, they wouldn’t call it a blind spot.)

You’re on the inside, looking out. It’s hard to read the label when you’re inside the bottle. Your consultant is on the outside, looking in.

If your marketing people talk a lot about colors and logos and layouts, you’re dealing with graphic artists posing as marketing consultants.

So if branding isn’t your logo or color palette, what is it?

In our next post, we’ll look further at branding.

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