The New Hotshot Has No Clothes

You’re a young, ambitious, and motivated marketer. You’ve read all the industry-leading books, and know all there is to know about brands.

You’ve worked for companies dealing with consumer goods or services, such as a retail brand. Then you get hired by an industrial company, looking to increase their sales through a greater emphasis on brand marketing. Great opportunity for you, right? Here is a stale, old, antiquated business who just doesn’t get how things work in these new days. They don’t even have a website, the president has never heard of Twitter, and you’re going to blow them away with all your slick and hip knowledge.

It’s time to rebrand this stodgy company, and make them attractive to the new era. We’re talking new sexy logo, websites, slick taglines, business cards, and the whole works. All the expenses are approved, because the president went to some seminar about business development and heard all the same buzzwords. You’re on cloud 9, and so are the designers and agencies you will be hiring to complete the work. The problem with being on a cloud though, it will dissipate.

Not to be expressing doom and gloom, maybe this kid will get lucky, the business will experience a boost in sales, and everyone can feel good about the events. But the most likely outcome of all this is seen somewhere in a business every day. The young hot-shot has a lot of ideas, but isn’t really dressed for this situation. It’s the understanding of a brand which is the problem. So many people have had a job in marketing, heard all the buzzwords, been to the seminars, and read the books, now believe they get what branding is about. But when someone’s idea of branding begins with “new logo” and “let’s put up a website,” nearly all businesses will suffer from what’s about to happen.

I used the example of an old industrial business, as this is an extreme case of a company most people don’t understand. We’re all consumers, and it’s easy for us to understand the retail process. Industrial sales are a different beast. Sure, the company doesn’t know what Twitter is, but if none of their customers know what it is either, then it doesn’t matter.

Most companies in specialized markets suffer from two distinct types of business failure. They either refuse to listen to a marketer from outside their industry, or they listen to the wrong marketer who doesn’t respect how different the market is. Staying inside your industry is usually going to keep you stale and eventually forgotten. But just because someone has a shiny website and radical ideas doesn’t make them a brand marketer.

No matter what business you are in, you need brand marketing and you need to be constantly growing, changing, and developing new ideas. The key to a brand marketer is they are going to ask a lot of questions, and need time to get to know your business. Shiny ideas are great, but they’re only good if they’re built around the product and the company goals. So be risky, take chances, but make sure the product comes first.