All of us in marketing spend our time clambering up the tree of brand understanding.
Up we go, the roots for the first leap, the solidity of the lower branches, the gradual thinning out of support, closer and closer to where the sunlight dazzles.
Then just when we feel we have a secure grasp of the principles, somebody gives the whole tree the most almighty shake.
Somebody like Gary Vee:
“Agencies and brands are selling vanilla at scale and nobody cares. We spend 16 weeks to develop a brand positioning and to come up with a tagline that means nothing to nobody.”
Or Byron Sharp:
“Again, we have overblown promises based on marketing theory and fashion, not facts.”
Or Bruce McColl:
“I’m not a great believer in targeting. Our target is seven billion people sitting on this planet.”
Or Simon Sinek:
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
Or Bob Hoffman:
“I believe the marketing industry has pissed away hundreds of billions of dollars on digital fairy tales and ad fraud over the past 10 years.”
Or a woman in a recent group of mine:
“Nobody watches adverts any more, do they? I feel sorry for the people who make them.”
Even Mark Ritson, is now throwing sticks at the conkers:
“Marketers are mid-way through a growing disciplinary revelation, in which involved, subtle, system two approaches to brand building are being replaced by more immediate, obvious, system one methods instead.”
At times likes this, all you can do is hang on for dear life to your core beliefs.
These are mine:
1. Brands have to make an emotional connection.
2. People’s choices are driven by their deeper needs.
3. All brands need a positioning.
4. Insights need tension.
5. Be distinctive, be remembered.
Then you wait for the shake, rattle and roll to subside.
When that happens, you might just catch a voice on the breeze, like that of Tom Goodwin:
“We are still about 3 years away from people finally realizing that a lot of business and marketing principles haven’t changed.”
And you watch the leaves flutter gently to the ground.