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A brand is for life

March 31, 2010

Graydon Carter’s letter to Vanity Fair readers this month examines the notion of fallen brands.

“It is a fairly time-and-tabloid-tested theory that those at the pinnacle
of their fields generally follow one of two distinct behavioral paths.
Those in the first group think they operate in a success bubble and are
therefore immune to the conventional rules of business or polite
society, or both. Those in the other segment live in abject fear that
it’s all going to come crashing down at some point unless they work
like mad and keep to the straight and narrow, business-wise and
otherwise. Companies or individuals in both groups should be ever
mindful that it’s a lot more painful falling from the top of the ladder
than from a middle rung. For those at the top, those with the global
names, or “brands,” as they are now called, the past few months have
been a rough patch.”

He goes on to highlight the recent trials and tribulations of Tiger Woods, President Obama, Toyota and Goldman Sachs.

It’s an interesting reminder that commentators were quick to make Obama brand of the year for 2008 for his amazing rise to the top and victory in the election. However brands are not supposed to be about short-term success, they are about durability, longevity and surviving the tests of time.

It’s clear that some very smart stewards have orchestrated the success of Tiger, Toyota, Obama and Goldman, but now the hard work begins. These brands need to be re-positioned, re-launched and win over an increasingly skeptical public. This isn’t something that will take a month or even the rest of the year, but much longer.

That doesn’t mean short-term, immediate actions don’t matter, the small steps taken along the way can add up to something over-time, but this needs to be thought through and planned out. It’s going to take herculean efforts to bring these brands back from the dead and involve everyone from the marketing experts to frontline employees.

While short-term success is the new yardstick:

– How many visitors to your site did you get today?
– How many views of your YouTube video?
– Daily sales- etc…

While we are currently obsessed with all that’s real-time, it’s not about this, brands need stewardship, careful management and attention, after all, brands are for life.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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