An important target for What’s the Idea? is the technology company. I’ve worked with AT&T on the digital applications side, helped launch Lucent (now Alcatel-Lucent), wrote a lauded brand strategy for ZDNet and have helped scads of mid-size tech companies and start-ups. Beyond experience, why tech companies are so important is the fact that they don’t get branding. The best of the lot are engineer-driven and see brand and marketing nerds are empty jeans.
So for you tech engineers and entrepreneurs, here’s a simple metaphor: Brand planners are like back end developers. If the back end is the hardware and engine and the front end the software and user interface (UI), then we brand planners work the former. The back end creates the organizing principle that determines which 1s and 0s to turn on and off. The brand plan creates and governs the same and the pathways. It’s simple really. Perhaps marketers have tried to make it sound so complicated with all our markobabble and talk about silly things like transparency, activation and, and, and. But a brand plan is one meaningful strategy and 3 governing principles. On or off.
The front end in the metaphor — what users see — is advertising, newsletters, digital content, acquisition programs. Without good governance, these things show up on a corporate homepage as 38 buttons. What I love about people like Robert Scoble, Brian Solis, Steve Rubel, Peter Kim, Bob Gilbreath and Jeff Dachis to a degree, is they get the brand “back end” and, so, their front ends are meaningful. People understand them.
Engineers need to hear and live this lesson. If they do, they’ll see the market through infrared goggles. Peace!