One of the best things about working in a branding agency is the cast of characters you come across doing business.Although we like to work with the C-suit in creating a brand identity, our first and most regular point of contact is normally the in-house brand or marketing manager. The differentiation or space the brand occupies is their raison d’etre, or at least the reason they are paid. No wonder they get defensive when Johnny-come-lately brand consultants come in and try to change things.
With tongue-partly-in-cheek, here’s a look at some traits of the brand and marketing managers, and tips on how to win them over.
Any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidental…
She protects the brand. It is her baby, her steady and her stay. It is where she brings value to the company. She doesn’t really like anyone to touch it. Outsiders are bought in not to ask questions, but to execute tasks she deems necessary.
Tame her! Softly softly, catchy monkey. Don’t rip the brand identity she has been incubating for years to shreds. Praise what is good and what works, and demonstrate how changes will empower and boost the brand in the eyes of target customers.
The brand has existed for generations. It is known and respected by industry peers. The custodian’s job is to keep it this way. Sometimes at the behest of his lords and masters, yes, but the message is: “it ain’t broke, so don’t fix it.”
Dangle the growth carrot. Suggest ways to reach new audiences or appeal to a wider demographic. It may be that a new channel calls for a more concise approach to messaging, for instance. This traditionalist wants to see gentle brand evolution, not violent brand revolution.
The spreadsheet is their comfort blanket. Everything is about returns for the spend and how effective the brand is in an auditable marketplace. This person probably sees marketing and branding as a stepping-stone on their way to the boardroom, they are looking to provide results that make them look good.
Show them brand is a business asset. Recruit them with the lure of showing how they can demonstrate this to the boss. Brand isn’t just a marketing tool, but something the whole business has a responsibility for. This flatters their ego and bolsters the importance of marketing to the organization.
OK, maybe not an intern but someone waaaaay down the organizational food chain. They are the last to be invited to speak at meetings, they are the first to be cut off by one of the bigger beasts from Finance or Operations and they probably just want an easy life.
This is their chance to shine! Sell-in something that will make them look good, and give them the evidence to prove it to the head honchos - measurable results that show how marketing has increased leads and sales. The most important thing in a case like this is reporting to the client so they can demonstrate the difference the campaign has made.
The Start-Up shooting for the stars
If they spewed forth money like they do energy and ideas, we’d all be watching the sun slip over the horizon from our yachts now. This guy has got something, but doesn’t quite know who it’s for, or how to tell them about it, or whether his website would be best with a neon pink or lime green colour scheme.
Harness that enthusiasm and work with them on tasks to discover what their brand identity is, and then run with them for the best ideas. These guys might have hit upon something amazing, your job is to help them tell the world about it, so they can go into the market with no ambiguity about What They Do and How They’re Different.
“I’d love to, but my hands are tied and our global guidelines state blah blah blah”. This poor soul takes orders from on high from people who have, to be blunt, bugger all idea about the market they have thrown our poor prisoner into. ‘Use #s’ they say, in a market where people don’t. Or ‘just translate the Europe plan’. Or ‘set up a social media channel’ on a (banned) platform.
Be their ally. Help them come up with argumentation points as to why the global superpowers’ plans aren’t going to work, and suggest what can. If the are determined to be consistent with other markets, don’t reinvent the wheel, just change the tyres for a smoother ride.