Have a look at these six pictures, which I took this morning in the space of five minutes, and then scroll down:
As you can see, all of these people are rappers.
Either that or photographers these days, especially those working for Laurier, have a cross-armed fetish. And as my photographer Andre Van Vugt has said, when you cross your arms in a photo you either look authoritative or like a rapper. Or, I would add, that you are not especially different from anyone else, the primary point of branding being the articulation of a difference sufficient to encourage people to do business with you instead of anyone else.
Now look at this photo:
This lady could have easily been posed like a rapper in order to convey the sense of power people feel after submitting themselves to the punishment of CrossFit, now all the rage in group fitness. Instead, the Adelaide Club was clever enough to say yes to a very different, highly remark-able photograph, one that conveys that CrossFit is a brutally tough workout, yes – but boy, will you look good (maybe even this good) when you’re done.
In branding, the herd mentality goes far beyond the realm of photography. It is a malaise affecting brand values, for example, which are so similar from one brand to the next that someone I know uses the acronym “RICE” to poke fun at the abundance of organizations – especially in the health care field – claiming their values to be Respect, Integrity, Caring and Excellence. Indeed, cookie-cutter values like these call into question how seriously the brand has thought about what’s most important to them, and thus whether these are in fact their values at all.
A brand ain’t a logo, as someone has said – yet the logo, as supposedly the conveyer of the brand foundation and thus the organizational culture, should be different if you are different (and you most certainly are different). So how to explain another brand-related fetish, that of the rope-circle logo?
This time from a five-minute surf:
Have a look at your logo and overall visual identity. Your photography. Your values (get busy thinking about them if you don’t have them codified). The language on your website and marketing materials. Exactly how different from the masses are your brand artifacts?
Because if you’re not different, you’re the same – so why should anyone do business with you instead of anyone else?
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QUIZ: Does Your Brand Mean Business?
BOOK: Buy the #1 Globe and Mail bestselling Brand: It Ain’t the Logo at Books for Business
RADIO: Interview on CBC Radio One about unhappiness with Windows 8
TV: BNN interview re Lance Armstrong’s brand (starts at 3:30, after the ad)