I haven’t done much stonework in my life. But inexperience doesn’t much daunt me. Neither does taking the initiative. So, having heard that branding was on the way out, I decided to fire preemptively and cut a tombstone for it. While I wasn’t happy about branding’s ostensibly impending demise, I was pretty satisfied with my handiwork. In fact, I had the stone completely cut. I’d even written an epitaph and carved it into the stele:

When we imagined brand was moot,
We shot faith in the head.
Now even though our logo’s cute,
Our brand devotion’s dead.

With the job well done, I decided it was time to put the monolith in my front yard. But before erecting it, I rather arbitrarily decided to check my email. (Who knows why these things happen when they do? Since I don’t believe in accidents, I take them to be coincident, rather than coincidental.) In my inbox, I had an email from a friend and professional colleague. I saw his subject line: “Check This Out!” The body of his email said only this: “This is SO right up your alley.”

When I clicked on the attachment, I saw the image below (which you can click to enlarge). It gave me a monument-size case of mixed emotions: On one hand, it made me ecstatic to know branding wasn’t dead. It couldn’t be; otherwise, the blatant conspicuousness of its absence wouldn’t have made the ad my friend sent so staggeringly lame. On the other hand, it made me despondent to know all the time, sweat, and bloody knuckles I put into branding’s grave marker had all been for naught.

Seeing that ad also reassured me that three universal truths stand steadfast as stone:

  1. No one and no company can be all things to all people.
  2. If everything’s important, nothing’s important.
  3. Nothing happens without an established brand.

The ad manifests #1 in its arrogant and erroneous presumption that whatever the members of the target audience want, the company the ad represents can deliver it. The ad manifests #2 in its groundless and impossible presumption that all of the needs of all of the members of all of its target audiences exist on the same plain of prioritization.

Most important, the add proves #3 is true: Regardless of whether such an ad is selling a product or a service, no one will seek it if they can’t identify (with) it. If they can’t identify it, they can’t know what it is. If they don’t know what it is, they can’t know what it does. If they can’t know what it does, they can’t invest faith in it. If they don’t invest faith in it, they won’t buy it.

I have no idea what I’m going to do with my branding tombstone. But I do know this:

Branding is not dead. Branding focus is dead. And it’s killing advertising.

Header image by RobVanDerMeijden, courtesy of pixabay.com.

Click to enlarge.