Thursday, February 28

Branding for professional services firms 

Branding is everything - and I mean everything.
-- Scott Bedbury

Branding is overrated.
-- Regis McKenna

I'm going to go with Regis McKenna on this one.

There is so much hot air being blown around about brands and branding, by everyone from Tom Peters ("Brand You!") to hundreds of smalltime business coaches who have glommed onto branding as a buzzword - and refuse to let go.

I'm going to define brand very clearly and plainly. A brand is a promise of an experience.


You walk into a McDonald's for lunch versus a Ritz-Carlton Hotel because that's the kind of lunch you want that day. You would probably be confused and more than a little upset if you found waiters and linen tablecloths in that McDonald's or if your bill came to $110.

So in order to punch through a lot of the mystique around building a brand, let's call it a promise.

* Who can make a promise? Anyone.
* How much does it cost to make a promise? Usually nothing.
* Can you make a promise to someone across the hall? Sure.
* Across the country? You bet.
* Can you make promises to people in just your local area? Of course.
* Do you need to be crystal clear on what that promise means, before you try to communicate it to others? Yes, that would be smart.
* If asked, could your top level executives say what your promise is or means? Would the answers be consistent?


Brand is communication. Brand is consistency. Brand is integrity. Brand is simply recognition for a job well done.

Boiling all these timeless business ideas into a 5-letter buzzword (B-R-A-N-D) doesn't change them.

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