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We’re cool. No, we’re not. October 30, 2007

Posted by David Gillespie in branding.
Tags: , , ,

I was chatting with my CEO the other day about our brand; what is inherent in it, where we want it to go. Any time I ask him what we are, he says “We’re cool!”, and I just shake my head. Perhaps it’s a crucial aspect of the GenX/Y divide, but I see this problem with so many brands, shouting from the roof top how relevant and interesting they are. The crux of the matter is you’re only interesting if other people say you are; otherwise you’re just conceited and out of touch.

By way of demonstrating relevant corporate culture, I showed him Vimeo’s Harvey Danger lip-synch. A great video rife with the culture of the office it stems from, they apparently started receiving CV’s from people saying “I don’t know what you do but I’d like a job”. To inspire people in that fashion, to get them excited about what your company stands for can drought-proof you against times when your offering falls flat. Your products might not always meet the needs (or even wants) or the market, but if your core culture remains appealing to your audience, it means you’ll get another shot with the next thing you do – provided you’re still in business of course.

I had breakfast with a great, great man this morning who works for another company we kinda compete with (I say kinda because it’s not black and white but I don’t want to get into semantics right now). He was talking about how his company has spent quite a bit of time trying to position themselves in a certain way, but at the end of the day they are perceived how they are perceived and they’re not convinced they can change that in a dramatic fashion without alienating their core users. Fortunately for them, they’re the market leader by a long way, so it doesn’t really matter; an entirely different position to being a start-up.

Getting back to the Vimeo clip though, I imagine that would intimidate as many people as it turned on. But with the nature of even the most staid professions changing (I call several accountants “friend” who are not remotely stereotypical), I’m excited by a time in the not too distant future where big corporations find a way to redefine the way they do business while still delivering on their core offerings. Could Ernst & Young get away with injecting the life that exists inside the four walls into their external communications and retain its market position? I don’t know, but it would be exciting to find out.


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