A Contradiction is a Terrible Brand

london olympics 2012 logo
London Olympics 2012 logo: Sadly to say, many think it is a bad logo and a poor branding effort full of contradictions - Editor
It continually comes to my attention that a good deal of businesses don’t do as they preach. As a brand (which to my reasoning is your reputation), you have a responsibility to deliver an authentic experience to your marketplace.

A basic example of this off-brand thinking is a real estate agent who buys a home from a private seller. When they are out pitching their services they tout the benefits of dealing with a professional sales person on both fronts – buyer and seller. What does this say about their integrity if their system is good enough for you but not them? We see examples of this contradiction every where.

Online I am constantly checking out companies who profess to be brand consultants only to see their own online brands are horribly lacking. They have no positioning strategy. Their images are amateur at best and their presentations make you cringe. What are they telling you by their failure to help themselves?

I can’t tell the number of business consultants I have been introduced to who don’t possess the very success they argue they can achieve for you. Go to any networking event and take a good look around the room. Who among the attendees stand out and draw attention to their brands. Sadly not many.

Recently a client told me of the journey his son is on to choose a university to attend next year. A university is a centre of higher learning, so you’d expect that they would be on top of their brand experience. One that stuck out in their mind and caused them to doubt their priorities was a professor’s letter riddled with spelling errors. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. All of that university’s efforts to attract great talent was killed by a sloppy presentation. Off-brand action.

I am investigating some sales training for myself. I approached a internationally recognized ‘training’ organization. I am familiar with their principals, so I was a warm lead from the moment we met. What disappointed me was the lead person I met with broke every principal in their book. Follow-up was lacking as well. I was promised materials to go over to choose my curriculum, but what I thought was forth-coming took 4 days to email me. Four days! Maybe I should be training them. If they cannot live up to their principals, how are they going to convincingly train others? I hope my experience is the exception, because if it’s not, their brand will suffer as a result of this.

Another example of contradiction is one that goes way back. Why do advertising agencies advice their clients to advertise for market share while they themselves don’t advertise. Can you recall the last time you saw an ad agency advertise for business?

A brand experience shouldn’t be based on, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Brands should “Lead by example.” Brands of all sorts must follow this credo. To do otherwise is dishonest at the very least.

Image: Ben Sutherland / Flickr