Radhika Jones was named editor in chief of Vanity Fair magazine yesterday. Vanity Fair is a literary brand with few global peers. Magazine brands like The New Yorker and Vanity Fair have a history of long standing editors, people who sit atop the title for decades. Great magazines get branding. When asked about her plans for Vanity Fair she says she will spend her initial time in discovery. Immersing. Acculturating. Learning the love.
New GE CEO John Flannery, on the other hand, already has a plan. Cut, cut, pare. His board, unlike that of Conde Nast or parent Advanced Publications, expect action not discovery.
Brand planning is a business about discovery. Maybe that’s why, as a business, it offers small category revenue. If you were to add up the revenue of all the branding firms in the world, you’d find maybe $95 million per annum. And if you parsed those bills the lion’s share of that money would likely fall to logo design, naming, style guides and advertising grist. The puniest slice of the pie being discovery.
Brand churn is a result of poor discovery. Advertising and marketing directors “come and go, a powerful brand idea is indelible.” It all starts with thoughtful and committed discovery. Anyone can slap paint on a canvas. Planned, extensible relevance takes time.