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In the 1993 film “Ground Hog Day”, Phil (Bill Murray) is a weatherman assigned to cover the annual ritual of observing a groundhog emerging from its hole. He then gets caught in a blizzard he didn’t predict and finds himself trapped in a time warp, doomed to relive the same day over and over again until he gets it right.
The not-very-funny thing is that most manufacturers are in this same loop when it comes to their marketing. Unlike Phil, however, they usually don’t realize it.
What is keeping them there is the absence of an underlying brand foundation to support, guide, and unify all of the different marketing initiatives.
Without a solid brand foundation in place, each time a new initiative is launched the team has to first spend time dreaming up a new one. And much like Phil, “It’s déjà vu all over again”.
Not operating from a solid brand foundation is akin to building a new manufacturing facility without any focus on the foundation requirements for your existing or future machinery. I think we can all agree that would be crazy – very costly and ultimately, very inefficient. My goal here is to get you to realize that marketing without first laying in a solid brand foundation is just as crazy.
A solid brand foundation starts with a well-crafted brand strategy that is composed of decisions based on why your brand exists, as well as on what it is or how it’s made.
Those decisions can then be used to determine other aspects of your brand foundation such as its point of view, voice and personality, etc. Once this foundation is in place it can be used to inform the creation of your brand’s architecture, brand story, customer touch points, and more.
But there’s more to it than just the pain of having to do messy ad hoc foundational work every time you want to create a marketing asset. Without every role being on the same page most projects end up being much more painful to do than they have to be.
Most of you hate the “touchy-feely” you associate with marketing. I get it. If I had to go through the ad hoc process as many times as some of you do to create a brochure (or worse, a website) I think I’d get out of the business!
What I can tell you is that when our clients allow us to take them up to the 30,000 foot level and craft the whole thing together, their whole attitude toward marketing changes (often dramatically) because it takes out 90 percent of that friction. The brand foundation provides a definite launching off point – where to start is clear. From that point forward, the “touchy–feely” is seen in context of a process for making smart strategic marketing and business decisions.
For example, rather than stressing over what you should say, what color it should be, or what competitors are saying, the approach becomes, “Let’s start off this project by reviewing our brand foundation so we can get ourselves in the right state of mind”. Then greater focus can be spent on what Subject Matter Experts really know that will infuse energy into this project and add relevancy and value to the target customer.
By undertaking the process of building a strong brand foundation upfront, you will be building consensus across roles and with leadership about what the brand really is. The constant wheel reinvention (or random concrete pouring) can stop and you can start focusing those resources on creating ROI and sales outcomes that will be more meaningful to your customers and, ultimately, to the success of your business.
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