How does branding really happen? (1)

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

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Among the comments on one of Hugh’s posts I found this gem from Ben Wharton (who doesn’t seem to have a website)(My emphasis)

As someone who has seen the most basic screw-ups occur when outside consultants, especially in the IT industry are brought in to bring a “New Way of Thinking” via a “New Way of Working” promoting “A New Way of Being” into an established business culture you’re staring down the double barrel of the most basic of issues.

While there are generalisations to be made about systems, it’s the multitude of exceptions that describe the realities of an individual system.

I like this statement. And it’s why I think so much of what is said about branding, especially in guides on how to do it, is of such questionable value.

I think what happens is that brands emerge out of the soup. After the event, a large number of Alpha Males lay competing claims to having invented them (success has many parents, failure is an orphan). As the history is written, many happy accidents are reinvented as the results of smart goal setting and thorough planning.

(I used to be a planner in ad agencies; every planner I ever met acknowledged that our real speciality was post-hoc rationalisation of creativity).

All this creates the Myth of the Goal. A story is told that suggests the only way forward for any grown-up organisation is to idealise a future state, compare it with a present state, and do the gap analysis. As Ben so shrewdly observes, that analysis of the present state will very likely fail to capture the multiple, apparently small, details that make any organisation what it is.

Nothing’s perfect, and such an approach has its uses, but I’ve become increasingly wary of idealised visions of the future, and failed acknowledgement of the present, which often serve to depress us and lower our energy and enthusiasm.

For some corporate types, the removal of the Goal Comforter may cause a good deal of anxiety. But for most people, I believe the choice to step more deeply into the present can be a source of creativity and satisfaction. Which raises energy levels, which makes stuff happen.

This is, of course, a far from complete argument. Think of it as a small piece and join it to something else if you like. I’ll be saying more shortly.

Meanwhile, if you’re Ben Wharton, please take a hat tip… and could I persuade you to start blogging?

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