As a director of marketing, you’ve become friends with timelines and time management, buddies with bandwidth.
Even if the leadership team loves your ideas and encourages you to execute, they then repeatedly and persistently ask one question: “When?”
When will it be done? When will the website launch? When will the new brand language be live? When will we see results? And you are always feeling the pressure.
Providing no help whatsoever is the dominant voice of many marketing “gurus” shouting, “Go! Now!” and shouting that their “quick fix” will bring you “immediate results.”
We propose this dangerous idea.
If you want to go fast with marketing, you must first go slow with branding. While marketing has an infinite to-do list, branding has a to-become list. The ingredients that make up an enduring brand can’t be rushed: deeply-rooted language, culture, client experience, innovation.
Branding is like bourbon or BBQ or a thick novel — it takes time to make it excellent. A brand is created, then crafted, then curated. It’s this dedication to the process of branding that brings the rich flavor of authenticity, originality and differentiation.
On the upside, branding (unlike marketing these days) is not complex.
Branding is the practice of inviting people into a conversation. It is being consistent about that specific conversation, and intentional about those invites. Branding is standing in courage to take an idea and put it into powerful language. It’s about owning a mission or a contrarian notion and seeing it all the way through. All of this is deep work. And deep work takes time.
While these are simple acts, they tend to stir up hornets’ nests inside your organization and in your market. So they require time to deal with. But in our view, this bit of disruption is what makes branding most effective — as long as it reflects the truth of who you are.
So why should you convince your leadership team to board the slow train of branding?
- You don’t have to do it again. Sure, you may upgrade the packaging or the look, but a slow-cooked brand recipe stays the same because it’s made of mission, beliefs, standards. Companies that don’t do the dedicated work of becoming a brand (expect a year or more in what we call the brand continuum cycle) inevitably end up in a loop of annual or more frequent re-brandings. Each one casting about for relevancy and permanency. And that takes money and time. It also fatigues your team and dulls your impact on your market.
- It gives you time to adjust as you go. If you approach your brand with a rushed campaign mindset, looking for a message that’s “good enough for now” and the idea you’ll loop back later to really nail it down, it’s likely your message will fall apart as the market shifts. And it will shift. Ask anyone who had a fully fleshed-out marketing plan on Jan. 1, 2020, how much of it they executed on. These days, and for the foreseeable future, uncertainty is omnipresent. So, if you go slow developing the brand one conversation at a time, you can adjust to what comes your way smoothly and without tossing out your entire plan.
- It will reflect your authentic voice. Even the most wonkish members of your leadership team know that successful branding and marketing these days is all about authenticity. When you take the time (and find the right partner to help) to carefully guide you and engage members throughout your organization in the branding process, the brand will be resonant with the truth of your culture. You won’t have to sell anyone that this is your brand — they’ll know it by hearing you speak and watching how you interact every day. And your authenticity is what differentiates you, no matter the product or service you sell.
For mid-sized and larger organizations, we call the process of uncovering and articulating the brand “Deep Roots.” We get our hands dirty in the soil of the soul of your brand. We are diligently particular about the quality and sustainability of this work of branding. We are sticklers for “measure twice, cut once,” an idea most ad agencies have long forgotten. We want you to be resilient to anything that comes your way. We want you to be sensitive and responsive to change.
Of course, we want you to grow.
But more than that, we want you to last.
We invite you to join Being Marketers. Being Marketers gives you a time and space to harmonize your marketing work with your soul.
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