Brand anarchy: why we need cops

Please note that this post was originally published on September 16, 2009. As a result, any external links or videos used may no longer be functional.

istock_000008364248smallTake any group of people. Give them a goal in which they have a vested interest, throw some obstacles their way, and apply pressure. What happens?

One common outcome of a shared experience is that the group members will bond. They will say things like, “Our team busted our butts putting the annual budget together in four days. Nobody slept. It was a hell of an accomplishment.”

And they will identify with each other. They will give each other knowing looks in meetings and tell inside jokes. They will develop their own mythology. And something else: they will brand themselves.

Apparently it’s human nature. One would think a football team, for example, would have one identity only. But within a team, the defensive players share a special bond, as do the offensive players. And within  the defense, the linebackers hang together, as do the defensive backs. The seniors on the team are bonded as a class, as are the first-year players.

Nearly every organization has teams within the team, divisions, departments, outlying offices, and committees. And many of these units will brand themselves with their own symbols, slogans, and special versions of the organization’s logo. Sometimes, unfortunately, these identifiers face the customers.

While this may be good for the morale of the individual unit, it is often confusing to the customers who are witnessing a multiple-personality disorder.

Enter the brand police with sirens blaring.

The purpose of brand standards and message platforms is to present the organization in a unified and distinctive manner to all audiences. Standards improve clarity, effectiveness and memorability. When applied consistently, they benefit all of the groups within the larger group and strengthen the brand in the marketplace.

Yet in many organizations the brand cops are held in contempt. No one likes to be told to take off their colors.

How are the standards police regarded in your organization?

This entry was posted in identity, standards.

0 Responses to Brand anarchy: why we need cops

  1. Pingback: Mark A. Scholl

  2. Devin Meister says:

    Yep, nobody likes the brand police. Even when faced with evidence that their current identity isn’t recognized outside of their internal circle. Even when faced with diminishing budgets that necessitate maximizing everyone’s dollars. No, they want something “different” this time. I hear this plea all of the time, “but it’s a one-off, does it have to follow corporate standards?”

    Why don’t CMO and other marketing managers get that consistent application of branding standards will benefit the entire organization over the long haul?

    From the oldest, most experience software company you’ve never heard of.