Branding is for cattle

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Worst Practices  |  New Rules of Marketing and PR  |  Buyer Persona  |  Marketing

Marketers are a bunch of flaky wimps.

I have been speaking with many technology company CEOs recently—something like 50 in the past three months while on the speaking circuit and as part of research I am doing into how great technology companies build products and develop go-to-market strategies. Many CEOs tell me that the way marketing tends to happen in technology companies is ineffective. Some CEOs say that within the management teams and employees at companies they have worked in, marketers are focused on the wrong things. They are not aligned with the goals of the business. Yes, some CEOs tell me that marketers are a bunch of flaky wimps.

Hold on there. Why is that?


When I see "brand" as a focus of technology company marketers I want to puke. A brand is what is burned into the side of a cow's butt. As a marketing term branding is a misunderstood and over emphasized concept in technology businesses. Marketers prattling on about the brand confuse the CEO so its no wonder marketing doesn't command respect in these companies. While the rest of the organization is focused on metrics and revenue and ROI and reaching buyers, these ineffective marketers are worried about how the T-shirts look.

Marketers who obsess about brand usually focus on aesthetics over buyers. They are more interested in the color scheme of the Web site than in meeting their buyers' needs with a content marketing strategy. They care about logos not buyers. They research color schemes instead of the market. Countless marketers got their knickers in a twist about the outward manifestation of an organization's brand--including logos, image ads, and tchotchkes--all at the expense of buyers and what they need to understand the company -- especially the content found on the company’s site. Well, they are flaky wimps if that's what they do.

What's really at stake—in fact what branding's really about—is a focus on the buyer. As each buyer builds an emotional response to a company, that emotion becomes the brand-image for that person. Fortunately, some great marketers understand that the provision of quality Web content does more to build brand than pretty logos, cool Web design, and hip color choice.

Our challenge as marketers becomes taking that understanding and selling it to the CEO and the management team in terms that they understand, like ROI and dollars and cents.