This is going to disappoint a lot of people. I’m sorry. It can’t be helped. Sometimes I feel like a professional bearer of bad news. And this news is less popular than most: Marketing people aren’t clairvoyant. There. I’ve said (typed) it.
Now that I have, I recognize it needs some clarification: If marketing people aren’t clairvoyant, brand-management people are even less so. We might know your industry cold. We might even know your business cold. But we can’t know your brand unless you reveal it, unless you share it, unless you help us understand what it is about your brand that makes it different from any other brand, unless you let us witness the ways in which you and your people inform your brand, interact with each other, and interact with your customers.
If the guy in the building next door to mine did exactly the same things I do, for the same constituencies, his brand would still be different from mine. It would have to be. He’s not me. So, his brand — the identity and personality of his brand — can’t possibly be the same as mine. How do I know this? I’m glad you asked.
The guy in the building next door to mine decided to do exactly the same things I do, for the same constituencies. He tried to say my brand was his brand. He even tried to pass himself off as me. He would have gotten away with it, too, if he hadn’t hired a brand-management firm. Those people got to know his brand — and mine — so intimately, they finally determined his brand was different from mine — and he wasn’t me — because I have a better singing voice.
Of course, the dude tried to sue me, claiming I’d stolen the song, “Dreams” from him. But he dropped the suit when I was able to prove I’d stolen it from Buddy Miles, who’d stolen it from Gregg Allman (even though Buddy changed it to 4/4 time from the original’s 3/4). After that, he went away and pretended to be Michael Bolton, who was being sued for pretending to be Kenny G.
Where was I going with this? I’ll be damned if I … oh! … what a minute … I got it: The point is you can’t expect a brand manager to know anything you don’t share with him. And don’t expect him to conduct a seance.
If you expect your brand manager to be a clairvoyant, you’ll end up with an unhappy medium.