When I was a kid, my mom used to laugh at me because I basically had the TV Guide memorized about 10 minutes after we got it. I would know what shows were coming on which day, which shows were new and which were repeats, and even which celebrity guest stars would be on Match Game. To be fair, there were a lot less channels than there are now. And further, I didn’t have much to do apparently, so memorizing the TV Guide was easily done.
I loved TV. I guess I still do, though I watch much, much less than I did as a kid. And I could not tell you the last time I held a TV Guide in my hands. So much has changed in that medium. I wish I knew then what I know now about how it would evolve. It would have been great to be at the forefront of the development.
Our brands need the same care. What are our brands? I think there are a few to pay attention to:
1 – Our companies – The brand identification for our organizations matters. What does the public perceive about your company? What is the messaging? What is it they think of first when they hear your company name? Those answers are a matter of our brand. Do you know those answers? How do you know them? In other words, how were they communicated to you? Companies spend millions on marketing their brand, but can still miss the fact that the messaging is misaligned from the actual company.
Branding is not marketing. Branding is about the utilization of the brand; it’s about the prep work done ahead of the marketing to the public. Sometimes, companies think that a snappy logo is the brand identification. The logo is really more about marketing than branding (See Phoenix Cavalier’s thoughts at http://biznik.com/articles/branding-is-not-marketing).
2 – Our roles – There is perspective held by those around us of our jobs. A role may be seen as tactical or strategic. The position we have now may not be what we want for our future, but because the role is seen as one type of position, it can translate to what others might think of what you can do. If the role you’re in is not strategic, but you want that opportunity, then re-branding it is as strategic is necessary.
Think about the positions in your company that have been changed or discontinued. How did they become irrelevant? Is there danger of that for your role? I worked for a company that saw a particular role as irrelevant and therefore discontinued it. About three months later, there was so much not being done that the short-sightedness was glaring. One VP commented, “I had no idea how much that role actually meant to the function of the department.” The brand of the role was not clear. A brand is simply the message of a product, service, or, in this case, a position. Again, what’s the message of your position to the company?
3 – Our competencies – If a role is to go away, are you going to be swept away with the position? Can the company see the difference? Your skills, knowledge, aptitudes and abilities have a message. Step back for a minute and see if you can read what they are saying to those around you. If you’re feeling particularly brave, ask someone if they could give you 3 skills that he/she sees you demonstrating on a regular basis. Vulnerable, yes, but it could be quite eye-opening.
When the makers of the TV Guide magazine product imagined their brand, they could only see it as a publication distributed on a weekly basis. As time went on, it provided interviews with TV stars. And once the necessity for a weekly magazine became less relevant, TV Guide moved to creating a TV channel with entertainment news, syndicated shows, reality-based programming and showbiz interviews. The core brand evolved to a fuller spectrum of TV entertainment.
Check your brands. What’s the message? Oh yeah, by the way, if it’s to be a good-looking, Italian, HR pro with a dynamic consultancy and a killer blog who is trying to influence the business community with strategic development encouragement, I’m sorry to say that’s already taken. Back off and pick another.