As directors of marketing, we are mistakenly under the impression that we are actually directing marketing.
The truth is, directors of marketing are often seen as marketing order takers. They are inundated with demands. Chief among these demands are repeated calls for the three Rs: results, responses and ROI. These demands often are accompanied by being “strongly encouraged” to try the latest marketing tactic your CEO or COO heard about at the last conference they attended.
As a result, you’re not really directing much. But you’re getting good at asking, “Would you like fries with that?”
There’s a hidden truth behind this. Like the emperor, the brand has no clothes. Everyone close to the “leaders-that-be” are afraid to speak the truth: that the brand you all love and are giving your blood, sweat and tears to, is slipping quietly into irrelevancy.
It may be happening quickly.
It may be happening a little at a time.
It may have slipped so far that you’re carrying a three-font business card with a prominently displayed fax number and curiously missing any social media information.
The additional challenge is that outside of water cooler chatter, it’s likely no one is talking about this. But you see it. More than that, you feel it. It’s a general unease (and possibly rampant denial) that something is off.
So what do you call a problem no one is willing to talk about?
We call this hidden reality DRIFT.
Drift is what happens when a company becomes disengaged with its root system; a set of standards and beliefs that keep cultures alive and companies growing. Like a mold problem, drift shows up in a variety of ways. Commonly, a company in drift may experience:
- Disconnection of the next generation of employees and customers from the core mission and purpose
- Trouble attracting leadership bench strength as wells as fresh front line talent
- Wrestling with an aging customer base coupled with an inability to reach the next generation of customers
- Difficulty or inability to differentiate or assume a brand position in order to stay competitive and relevant
- Watching unexpected competition rise up and make millions taking your market share – leaving you to respond with a tepid new slogan or discount
Like your uncle in his underwear, once you see drift, you can’t un-see it, so you have to do something about it.
Our next post will be sharing ideas and tools for identifying and correcting drift. But before we do that, we have a challenge for you …
- Do you see it too?
- Where do you see it?
- Are you willing to be the champion of fixing it?
To learn more about drift and how it erodes brands and culture, tune in to our webinar on August 8 at 10:00 am PT called “Drift: The Silent Brand Killer + What To Do About It”
Emily Soccorsy + Justin Foster are cofounders of the intrinsic branding practice known as Root + River. Together with their defiantly different clients, they uncover then articulate the foundational elements of the brand. Then, they provide brand strategy and brand coaching as the brand is rolled out internally and externally. Obsessive about language and differentiation, Emily + Justin are also authors and speakers. Follow @rootandriver @fosterthinking and @emilyatlarge.