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Do no harm to your brand

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Aug 15, 2017 • Eric Morgenstern • Blog

Marketing Trends



Who doesn't love a good brainstorm session? The ideas are flowing...the energy is high...and then suddenly, out pops the big, "out-of-the-box" idea. The team falls in love with this idea. Immediately they add to the concept, and the momentum builds. Then, "Ta-Da!" Something special is born.

But alas, the problem is that not all good ideas are truly good for a brand. Some good ideas may do damage.

Healthcare professionals learn this message early and often. The Hippocratic Oath essentially states, "Do no harm to the patient." Physicians may not be able to cure or help a patient, but with absolute certainty, they promise to never harm them. I wish all marketers followed this approach.

At Morningstar Communications, one of the ways we validate ideas is to insert time to "reflect and defer final judgment" following each ideation session. This helps ensure we never harm the brand.

Your brand lives in their mind

What, exactly, is your brand? (The "your" in the preceding sentence can refer to a person, an organization, a place...)  There are zillions of definitions of the word "brand." My favorite is quite simple: For the people that matter most to you, what do they think or say when they think or speak of your brand?   

A brand is a promise. An expectation. A brand is not reality; it’s a perception.  

If you think a restaurant is expensive, it is...to you. If someone else thinks that same restaurant is "reasonable," then it is... to them. Your brand "lives" in the six inches between the ears of the people who matter most to you. 

Marketers can damage the very brands they are hired to strengthen through approaches that are disrespectful, exploitative, in poor taste, or plain silly. Often these ideas are implemented in the spirit of creativity and innovation. 

We've seen marketing make promises that operations can't fulfill. We've seen spotlights on new customer segments that alienate existing buyers. We’ve seen the Hollywood starlet approach, "I don't really care what they're saying about me as long as they spell my name right."

We couldn't disagree more.  

So, the next time you consider a new idea, in the spirit of innovation and creativity, take time to reflect on the full impact of that idea to ensure it won't cause unintended challenges for your brand. Onward...