Archive for December, 2010
I recently spent a morning with a branding expert discussing rebranding our own company. In our meeting he asked me if I was familiar with Doc Martens. Then he went on to tell me a little about their history. In a nutshell, they were founded decades ago as a solid work boot which was practical, hard-wearing and had a classic design. It did OK, but then exploded across the globe. Before long it was the boot of the masses. Extremists were the first subculture to adopt the boot in the early 1960s, spilling out of the East End of London, then across Britain and the world; initially non-racist and obsessive about their fashion, Martens had already morphed into a torchbearer for a brave new world. The late 1960s and 1970s saw the boot adopted by – not thrust upon – nearly all the ‘tribes’: Mods, glam, punks, rockers, psychobillies, Goths, industrialists, nu-metal, hardcore, straight-edge, grunge, Britpop…
Imagine trying to control the brand and core value propositions of the Doc Marten’s brand. This brand evolution really hit home with me as I thought about branding of our own remodeling company. As marketers, we sit back and think about what makes us different. Then we put together pieces filled with features and benefits that we think are important to our brands, then develop value propositions accordingly.
Back to my question –who owns your brand? In my opinion your clients do.
I would recommend that you explore the essence of your brand and value proposition backwards. Go on to some of the opinion sites like Angie’s List and CheckBook and spend some time reading about what your clients liked about you. If you survey your clients after every job, take some time and read through those too. In those reviews and surveys you will find your brand. Sometimes it may not be what you want it to be (great design, superior craftsmanship, etc.). Other times it may be something that isn’t sexy like service or communication. That’s OK though. There are very strong brands such as Nordstrom that got it right. They simply hang their hat on service and do it better than most companies. Other brands such as Federal Express hand their hat on reliability; and again, they do it better than others.
Once you uncover your brand embrace it! Don’t try to turn your brand into something it isn’t. Imagine being Doc Martens and trying to rebrand your products. Your clients have already decided that you’re valuable. Simply execute the brand they know and love.