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Ruminations from open’s internal braintrust

Expertise is organic. It must be constantly nurtured if it is to grow and flourish. This is one of the fundamental pillars of OPEN’s internal culture.

Marvin Chaulk, Vice-President, Senior Consultant
OPEN Communications

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the opinions and musings behind the expertise

Blog Author: Stephen Wheeler

Your Brand Is out There, Like It Or Not

Stephen Wheeler

Posted: August 8, 2013

Marketing Abhors a Vacuum
One day, we were discussing prospective clients at a production meeting when the subject turned to a client that was flirting with the idea of branding their business. The conversation went a little something like this…

“ClientX is looking to get a brand platform established for his business, but is wondering if he should spend the money. There’s no real brand right now, just a name. They used to work with Other Company before going into business for themselves.”

“Oh yeah I know ClientX! I think I’ve seen some of his pictures on Facebook. I know some people who worked with ClientX before. Man I’ve heard some stories…”

All of a sudden it dawned on all of us: in the absence of a brand, a brand will form around you. If you are in business, everything about you becomes part of your business’ identity, especially in this day and age. Don’t have a logo? Not a problem! Your Facebook profile picture is now your logo. No name on your business? Hey, we already know you as that guy my friend’s brother went to school with. You remember him? The guy who taught you how to do a keg stand.

Getting the picture now? Your identity forms either way. The question is whether it is an identity that compliments who you are and what you do in the eyes of your target audience or a random sampling of second-hand knowledge and the first thing Google turns up, for good or ill.

Not Everything Really NEEDS a Brand… Does it?
Now I know what you’re thinking.

“Waaaaaait one minute! You’re just trying to sell me something! I know lots of stuff that doesn’t have a brand!”

Now before you burn me as a witch for my uncanny mind reading abilities, let me put it to you as an indisputable fact: every product and business out there has a brand of some kind.

“Oh yeah? I’ve got you there smart guy, what about that ‘No Name’ stuff at the supermarket? They don’t have a name or a fancy logo or anything because they don’t need it”

Well I guess you’ve got me there, but I’m not sure I am entirely familiar with it. Can you describe it to me?

“Don’t be ridiculous, everyone knows that ‘No Name’ brand stuff! You can’t miss it. It’s in the bright yellow packages with ‘No Name’ written in big black… ”

Checkmate! (Don’t feel bad, I usually win the arguments in which I control both sides of.) The ‘No Name’ brand is in fact branding brilliance. Subliminally, it tells the customer that this product is exactly what you are looking for at the lowest possible price. It says “If you want cartoon characters selling you Rice Krispies at a huge mark-up be my guest. We’re selling essentially the same stuff here, just minus the cost (which would have been passed to you) in making the cute cartoon characters – and the ads.”

Take Control of your Brand
If you are in business for yourself in any capacity, you need to be the one that is controlling your brand and not the other way around. If you want to be known for your work and have a reputation as a professional and not be known as an anecdote from a cocktail party then you have to own your brand and make it work for you!

Think of your business as being on a perpetual job interview, and your brand is who the employer meets face to face. You wouldn’t show up in jeans and a T-Shirt with your resume written on a napkin, would you? Well that is the impression customers will get if you hand them a post-it note with your email, bikini-inspector69@yahoo.com, or if you leave it to them to look for you on Facebook featuring a red-faced you smooching your fiancée during the last New Year’s Eve celebration.

The Bottom Line?
Think about it. Take control. Represent.