branding strategy Tag

What the Republican Party Really Needs – Neither a “Rebrand” nor a “Facelift”

What-the-Republican-Party-Really-Needs

What the Republican Party Really Needs

When the term “rebrand” is referred to as a “facelift”, (as it often is) it is a disservice to the work of brand strategists. Anyone who believes a facelift is going to fundamentally change how people see them is generally wrong. The same holds true for companies. When an organization decides to “tweak” its image, rather than address the fundamentals of its business, the resulting reactions range from ambivalence to cynicism to outright fury.

A facelift is a cosmetic procedure performed to change an appearance. When a “rebrand” is approached in the same way, it is about appearances, not reality. If the new appearance does nothing to change the reality of the organization behind it, the exercise is shallow and wasteful. In a recent Fast Company article* advising the Republican Party on “rebranding” themselves to win more support, the author suggests many ways the GOP could alter its appearance to be more appealing to voters.

We agree that the Republican Party will continue to lose momentum and credibility (as the 2012 election showed) until it can come to some consensus internally. But this article frames this problem from the outside, in, rather than the inside, out. It suggests that the party must change to please voters, rather than clarify and affirm what its members really believe in. This is a recipe for short term success and long term failure, because the party will just continue to tack its way from election to election. Clarity on who you are (and not just who others want you to be) is a requirement if your brand image is to be credible, sustainable, and ultimately, successful.

Identity and image are the yin and the yang of your organization’s brand. Your brand identity is who you are. It’s your purpose, what you care about, and why people should be glad you exist. Your brand image is how you are perceived by your critical audiences.  If these elements are out of balance, they need correcting. Many great organizations suffer because their images do not reflect the true value of their identity, and many so-so (or worse) organizations spend mightily to gloss over who they really are, setting themselves up for failure in the process.

Of course, politics is a challenging context –most politicians will try to be whoever voters want them to be in order to get elected. The drawbacks to this philosophy are clear today and represented by the lowest approval rating for congress in history. Consider this, Republican Party – if you worry only about how you appear on the outside, your insides will continue to eat away at you. Find your true identity, and your image will follow.

* http://www.fastcompany.com/3005471/rebranding-gop-can-marketing-facelift-overhaul-republican-party

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Branding Strategy: Repairing the Shoe Shop

I took a pair of shoes in to be repaired today. Around the corner from our San Francisco office there are two shoe repair stores. One of them, Anthony’s Shoe Service, is an old-school shoe repair shop that has been in business since 1926 – a dying breed in the city. Next door to it is Mak & Co – a relative upstart with one of our favorite signs in San Francisco. “Mak & Co: Shoe Service, Keys Cut, Watch Repair, Shoe Shine, Nails, Facial, Waxing, Massage.” Basically, any service you can cram into 650 square feet.

Branding Strategy

The two stores illustrate two distinct brand challenges.

Anthony’s has a clear identity and brand focus. They offer a highly specialized service, have a loyal clientele, and will continue to repair shoes as long as their customers keep coming in. However, with a singular focus, they have limited alternatives for driving new business or growing revenue.

Mak & Co, on the other hand, is highly entrepreneurial, offering a bewildering array of services with skills that may or may not transfer from one service to the next. As they add more and more services, they face the risk of confusing the market. Mak & Co. is an identity that doesn’t say anything.

brand positioning

We recently helped a client faced with the same brand challenge as Mak & Co. Highly entrepreneurial; they had started as service company with a specific industry expertise in digital media buying. As their capabilities and client list grew, they added more and more individually branded services and proprietary technology tools that they could sell separately. Although revenues continued to grow, their growing sales and account team couldn’t clearly articulate what business they were in or how their offerings added up to a clear value proposition. By being so broad in their offering, they risked losing business to more specialized competitors.

Our recommendation was to develop a new brand positioning that serves as a broad platform, appropriate to the multiple services and technologies they provide, yet establishing ownership of a specific expertise. It also gives them a clear direction for future growth. This new positioning has invigorated the company, clarified their business direction, and reassured their investors. Now, everyone in the company can clearly articulate what the business they’re in and why they matter to their most critical audiences.

The moral of the story: A company with a clear brand positioning has a greater chance of gaining new business and retaining existing customers. Where did I go to get my shoes repaired? I went to Anthony’s.

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Strategic Identity and Your Corporate Image

Corporate Identity Branding and Strategy

Some people believe that “image is everything” when it comes to marketing their company. Others think “identity” begins and ends with a logo.

The reality is, both are important, and identity and image have a critical relationship in telling your unique story.

We believe that a strategic identity should help you clearly articulate who you are, what you do, and why you matter to your key audiences, in ways that are ownable, believable, beneficial, sustainable, and profitable.

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