Branding is actually HARMFUL to building
Branding takes needed money away from
building delight-inducing experiences. It
takes money away from serving
customers. It takes money away from
making great products. It perpetuates
outmoded media forms. It makes healthy
products sick and sick products die. It kills
true creativity. Dead.
The idea of “Branding” was invented
some time in the late 1980’s by a
management consultant type who is now
living on a yacht dodging the tax authorities.
In fact, brands existed quite nicely before
branding. And they did it the right way.
They won games (NY Yankees), they did
great ads (original VW campaign in 1960’s),
they provided a place where you could get
a decent cup of coffee and sit down
In effect, brands started by slinging
The ‘brand’ was simply a nice by-product
of a series of great, delight-inducing
experiences. One after another. Or, to
put it another way:
The delight led to the brand, not
the other way around.
Brands had to prove themselves time and
They had to earn the right to be brands.
They had to be creative – because people
like things that deliver.
Instead of doing the hard work of building
the brand from the bottom up,
experience by experience, engagement by
engagement, in the age of mega TV
networks and nouvelle cuisine, someone
cooked up the idea that you could just,
by the magic of that strange alchemy
known as branding, build a business.
They sold the illusion that there was one
plan, one size fits all, one answer. One
But it sucked for people who buy or use
your product. And it sucked for people
with passion who make or sell your
product. It was, however, very good for
people who sell nouvelle cuisine.
URGENT: It is time for creative people
(in manufacturing, in design, in store
architecture, in writing and art) to take
control back from the branding experts
and just start slinging delight. Engaging
with the people who have the money we
want, by doing one nice thing after
another for them.
It is time to start building brands
from the bottom up:
one freaking delightful experience
That experience can be a great ad.
(old VW campaign)
That experience can be an
unscripted phone call.
That experience can be a
welcoming place with decent
(What Starbucks was before it
When the focus is put back on making
each engagement rich and delightful and
alive and off-script, branding will take care
When each Coca-Cola engagement
(package, drink, website, phone app, text
ping, you name it) is as refreshing as the
next sip of Coke on a hot day, the Coke
brand will be strong.
Instead of Enron (great logo, great brand
standards manual, friend of the devil) we’ll
get more Zappos and Seinfelds and “Got
Milk’s” and cool, enjoyable stuff that sells
and resells itself.
Because in a post branding world, it’s not
about “what are you saying to me?”
It’s about “what are you doing for me?”
It’s not about how cool your logo or
positioning or color palette is.
Just like in life, in a post-branding
world, it’s all about:
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME
Did you make me smile? Did you give me
something to talk about? Did you help get
me laid? Did you make an ad that
entertained me as it sold me? Did you let
me talk for a while about dumb stuff
without making me feel dumb? Did you
break some rules for me to get it right?