Will You Help Me Raise My Brand?

Ideas  /  Andy Eltzroth  /  10.30.13

One of the most common requests we hear when we're talking with prospective clients is: "Please explain / detail / demonstrate your process." They want to know that we'll be the right partners with the right skill sets, attitudes and approaches to the task at hand. And they want to know that we know how to get them from point A to point B. That we've been there, done that.

My parents taught me a lot. They taught me the importance of having a plan in life. They taught me that partners with shared values, beliefs and goals—who bring diverse skill sets to focus on the same objectives—can achieve incredible things. They taught me the value of staying the course through all of life's ups and downs. And they especially taught me how important those things are when it comes to helping each other raise kids.

I've come to relate what we do—employing strategic design to help clients define, articulate and communicate their brands and positively impact their organizations—to raising kids. It's a lengthy process that starts with a buzz of excitement (maybe followed by a little fear) that quickly evolves into determination, offers a lot of good and a few bad days, and generally remains on schedule. Once the gestation period is complete, with a little push (or six, or fifty), a beautiful new creation is born. And then the work begins.

Once a brand / child is born, it's by no means complete. That brand / child must be nurtured, guided and empowered to change for the better. It's got to remain true to itself, but be adaptable enough to deal with whatever new environments and new challenges the world might have in store for it. A living organism that you can influence but not necessarily control, a brand / child is continuously growing and evolving.

So what does the process of raising kids have to do with the process of strategic design / brand communication?

Being a parent is like being in a weird club: you either get it, or you don't. You share a mutual understanding and respect when you meet another parent and often struggle to describe what you do to those who have never experienced it. The early mornings and late nights, the hopes and anxieties, the struggle to exert firm but gentle control, the constant need to clean up random messes, the mood swings, the biggies and smallies, the odd tantrum, and always the desire to improve everything. Now substitute the words 'chief marketing officer' or 'brand manager' for the word 'parent'. Bingo.

What my parents failed to mention was just how hard the process of raising kids actually is, because NO TWO KIDS ARE EXACTLY ALIKE! And prospective clients spend a lot of time telling us how singular they are, how they're different from their competitors and peers, and how the challenges and opportunities they see are unique. Because they're right. NO TWO CLIENTS OR BRANDS ARE EXACTLY ALIKE!

So because there's no one way to raise either kids or brands, in both cases we follow broadly articulated processes that gets detailed out and adapted to reflect the unique realities of the people whose goals we're trying to help achieve.

Then we watch them grow.

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