Can we finally commit “committed”?

Many years in advertising and branding have left me just a bit cynical (big surprise?). I’m usually a really cheerful positive guy, but when I see toothless language used to describe successful businesses and their products it’s just, well, sad. And avoidable.

Take “committed” for example, or its brother, “commitment.” Commitment is a great human attribute, but is it really worth saying in a slogan? “We’re committed to making better paperclips.” As a consumer, can’t I assume that particular commitment is pretty obvious? That’s why the company is in business, right? “Making better paperclips” is three words instead of six, it starts with a nice assertive verb and it’s a declaration of the quality of the product.

There’s the “working” construct, too. “Working to help our customers …” and “Working together to create …” You’ll find those in content and copy all the time and that’s bad enough. But in a slogan or tagline “working” is just air – I know you’re working. Starting those lines with “helping” or “creating” is much more powerful. 

One more example and I’ll get off the stump. Too many companies describe themselves as “Leaders” or “Global Leaders.” I expect the C-Suite and the board feel all proud about being leaders, but I’d assert that leadership means little to the consumer. Especially these days, when every company and product in the world are just a few clicks away. Being the biggest isn’t necessarily a benefit, either. Remember how famous Avis got for being #2? (Great story if you’re too young to remember.)

Anyone who’s ever done a copy test knows that individual words have power. When our team evaluates a brand and its promise, we don't just look at the words and images that promote the brand. We gather data from every level of an organization—especially people who face the customer. And we even talk with vendors, board members and other stakeholders. Only by examining a company and its brand from top to bottom can we distill the essence of a brand’s promise and present powerful recommendations. And that's why MBM's proprietary branding process works.

Triage for Your Ailing Brand

Recent events have done all kinds of damage to brands – much of it largely invisible. Businesses have been turned on their heads. Not only are most employees working remotely, many companies have lost suppliers, given up face-to-face contact, and left customers wondering whether the brand promises they used to trust are still being kept.

We believe that a brand is much more than your web site, slogan or logo. Those are the “face” of your company, but the promise of a brand goes much deeper – and it represents your company as a whole. That’s why we look at your culture, operations and processes, too – not just the areas you’d typically associate with “traditional branding.”

After all, if your teams in Manufacturing, Sales and Customer Service are all operating on different assumptions about your brand, how can you expect your customer to understand and value your product consistently? Internal disconnects like that are the gaps we’ll uncover for you, and we’ll also find ways to capitalize more on your strengths. We’ll present your senior team with both gaps and strengths, along with actionable strategic recommendations that will bring your brand back into alignment.

If you’re thinking, “Well, my HR people can do all of this,” we respectfully disagree. Here’s why 

  • An outside source can gather useful feedback because your people will be more comfortable speaking with someone who doesn’t have access to their personnel file. This is a confidential “brand” discussion, not a morale survey.
  • You and your reports already have plenty on your plates, and don’t need to be embroiled in all this detail. But we’ll make sure you’re informed all along the way.
  • We don’t doubt that you know your company well, but you may know little of what your customer-facing employees think. Skeptical? A well-known study published in Inc. reported that 100% of front-line people knew the company’s challenges – but only 4% of those challenges worked their way up to the C Suite.

We know that you and your team have put a lot of time, effort and money into making your company successful. You’re unique, and the last thing you need is a cookie-cutter solution. That’s why we begin with you and your leadership team, agreeing upon goals, learning about you and your competitors and designing a brand exploration that is totally yours. 

Elsewhere on this web site, you can find a more detailed explanation of how we go about realigning your brand. But a better way to learn is with a one-to-one conversation. We listen hard and talk straight, so don’t hesitate to get the conversation started. Just click "Home" above, and then click "Get Started."


What Can I Say?

“But what can I say?”

Supporting the people in your organization isn’t easy even when things are going well. And now you’re living with events going very not-well. By now, you’ve gone through the process of asking employees to work from home. Or tougher yet, you may have let people go or put them on furlough. Painful things for a boss to do and say.

So, what’s left for you to say? Here and during the coming weeks we’ll offer executives some possibilities. Simple one-at-a-time suggestions for you. If these ideas feel like a good fit, feel free to use them (add your own personal thoughts or just copy and paste if you like). We’ll offer more as you work through the weeks and months of struggling to keep your business moving.

You’re concerned about your employees (and so are we). And we also hope these simple messages offer you some personal support. So, first of all, consider this …

“You’re stuck at home, in isolation with your family, limiting your trips outside the house and maintaining safe distance when you do. Congratulations. You’re part of the cure. It feels strange, but you’re doing exactly what needs to be done. You’re in partnership with millions of other Americans who are taking this health threat seriously. I thank you, and the country thanks you. Your continued health also preserves the health of others. Keep it up! And look forward to lots of hugs on the other side of this.”

Stay well. This isn’t forever. And we’d love to hear your thoughts if you like. Just share them here.