Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Why your brand should be - yes! - boring to you

Take this quiz:
1. Does your organization have a proliferation of names and acronyms that it tries to promote among external stakeholders?
2. Do various projects and programs within your organization each insist on having their own logo for external use?
3. Do you ever hear people say that they're sick of using the standard PowerPoint template and want to be more "creative"?
If you answered "yes" to more than 1 out of 3 of these questions then your organization is in "hyperbrand" mode. It is frantically creating new names and identities to distinguish innumerable projects and programs within the organization, likely confusing your customers and other outside stakeholders. Hyperbrand mode is a bad, bad thing.
A similar problem has to do with marketing departments and their need to come up with "fresh" new exciting campaigns for every this and that. As Seth Godin writes in Purple Cow (p. 75): "Marketing departments often feel a need to justify their existence. If last year's slogan feels old, they'll spend a million dollars to invent and propagate a new one." It is better sometimes to do nothing: "If you do nothing, at least you're not going to short-circuit your existing consumer networks by loading them up with a lot of indefensible junk."
Website consultant Gerry McGovern (http://www.gerrymcgovern.com/), in a recent lecture, said something similar. He said that good websites are often boring websites to those who create them (not to the public) because they do what they're supposed to do--get the public to their tasks--without steering them in directions they don't need to go.
Remember that your brand should be boring to you because you need to state the same thing over and over again in order to get the public to hear you. If you get the urge to redesign, rebrand, remarket, or relaunch your products and services over and over again, or if you start feverishly promoting product and program names to the outside world, you will LOSE CUSTOMERS to confusion. They will turn to a simpler brand, one that is easier to follow and to understand.

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