04 Dec The black hole of corporate branding
The term “branding” started out in the Dark Ages, where marks were burned onto cattle. On ever-so-slowly-evolving minds of the Homo sapiens this word also made a solid impression and provides a daily dose of comfort. Belonging to a product and a brand name, offering taste and vanity offers a security blanket. A warm fuzzy feeling when a huge name is printed on the chest.
The mind and body just craves to carry something with a logo, color and stripes, wear anything as long as it’s identifiable, get tattooed with names or razor lines on skinned heads or name babies after brand names. “Hey Rolex, come to mama and play with Infinity.”
The hungry souls want something, just about anything, as long as it is a name, one could brag or chat about. Companies created great items and developed great name identities. The businesses were delighted and supported artificial shortages, presented addictive designing while pricing them very high, all as qualifiers to make a real expensive brand. It was wonderful. Everyone contended. Everyone became a brand carrier, infesting the herds and paying dearly.
Starting the romancing age
In the earlier days, great new products were created leading to powerful marketing and branding strategies. Everything required distinct packaging, colorful logo-design and a solid name. Mass promotion at any cost was a must. The creation of frenzy was the rule and watching the consumers drool during the hype was the norm. It really worked.
Leaving the coercing age
Later, when the dilution factor kicked in and thousands of new copy-cat brand names flooded the markets, it forced new twists and required new methods of persuasion. This time, strange and crazy gimmicks became the standard while customers started getting fussy, and became wolves in sheep’s clothing. Branding became a serious challenge, partially for lack of originality of the products wrapped with ineffective blitz advertising and missing of unique brand name identity.
Entering The rejection age
Today with zillions of similar brands and zillions of confusing names most are simply look-a-likes and sound-a-likes. Now, the sheer boredom and the volume of new offers by the thousands have killed the fancy. No new product, no new category, no new design and no-nothing attracting the herds. Yawn time. Today, either big name brands are offered at bottom prices, or useless products are offered at top brand prices. Both options being ignored by the cuddly wolves. Today, it’s a state of mass confusion and big rejection.
Future of branding
This now brings me to the future of branding. Customers have slowly transformed into connoisseurs of very cheap deals, practicing a downward-spiral of pricing on the web, compliments of a powerful mouse while businesses are acting more like elephants jumping in fear. How Dumbo that is.
Today’s net-savvy customer now dangles the mouse in the face of the giant corporation and gets hundred of competing products and services in a second… the corporation simply tremors more.
Is this the reason businesses are turning to mediocre marketing and losing their magic touch? Every business, by and large is simply following each other, very sheepishly searching and looking at each other for ideas to copy. Is this the reason that all car commercials look the same, all the financial services act the same, and all the names sound the same?
Never mind the identical logos, designs, packaging, adverts and particularly the expensive taglines. Originality and guts to lead are in great scarcity. The “age of duplication” is now upon us. The branding and design industry is equally dumbfounded during this meltdown of their services. The future looks pretty dark.
Should we ban the word “branding”?
This term, so unnecessarily used by such a large number of unqualified services as a band-aid to all problems irrespective of size or type. Should this term be banned? The brand-happy agency teams are often busy chasing beaten-up ideas without a clue while a handful of experts are watching by the sidelines. Without new rules, there is no branding, and what worked on cattle may not work with the general population of the future.
The big question is, what are the brand new laws of branding, corporate image and naming cyber-identities? What are the real cost savings in new global cyber visibility and how do you recognize when overly used branded exercises are just sinking the projects?
Should we stop attracting customers?
To get the attention of new customers is now the hardest, so should we blame them or the floods of junky ad messages climbing on each other? Customers are now like quiet nocturnal creepers; they go hunting in the silence of the night in the cyber-jungles searching for cheapest deals.
They know how to find what they need and know exactly what to get. Should we simply let customers find us, and how? The landscape has totally changed. The old model of opening a big store and aggressively promoting it to attract customers is gone. Your top-dollar structures and expensive logistics have no incentive if they can get better value and services for few cents. The day of dollar-a-day labor is showing its power.
Should we now discover the fine art of visibility and check out how to become accessible on global e-commerce. How do we make sure they can find us first, before we search for them?
Should we globalize, localize or simply die?
There are brand new rules of global marketing. A proper discovery process on how to approach visibility while building clean international name identities for this global name-economy is a must. Globalization will make the localization process manageable. Look out for feelings of certain numbness while sitting in a quiet time zone in a corporation.
This is something that the great Alvin Toffler mentioned in Future Shock. Facing the current realities of globalization of supply chain and labor can be a real shock. Learn and teach new standards, lead and spread the new knowledge in your organization, break the old methods. The sooner you come out of the bondage of the old fashioned marketing and branding campaigns, the sooner you will see a new dawn. There is certainly light on the other side of this black hole.
Naseem Javed, author of Naming for Power and Domain Wars, is recognized as a world authority on global name identities and domain issues. Javed founded ABC Namebank International, a consultancy he established a quarter century ago, and conducts executive workshops on image and name identity issues. For comments reach Naseem at email@example.com.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, & do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.