Beyond Branding

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Beyond Branding is written by members of The Medinge Group

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November 02, 2003

A reader comments... 

Jeremy Williams of 1835 Company has used our contact page to comment on our endeavours. Here's what he says:
To save space, I've not mentioned examples to support what follows, though I can provide them to prove that it's not just opinion!

In terms of getting down to brass tacks (and not stopping at the brass), the work put into Beyond Branding and its predecessors is certainly a cry from the heart.

I notice that a number of successful companies taking such things seriously are associated with the names of their founders. This does not necessarily make them pesonality-led brands. You find lots of smaller but successful companies in this vein in Germany and France. The idea they espouse is not a fight between show and substance, but that they are proud (or satisfied enough with their product) to put their name to it. It's like a signature on a document, a charter linking consumer to producer. What they are doing inside the company is forming an extended family. It would interest me on a sociological basis to investigate the links between family attitudes and the success of such enterprises.

These firms in my experience are very product-oriented. The product may be anything from screws to advertising to management practice. Problems do crop up when there has to be a transfer between generations - the original standards must not be lost, nor transferred into the holding image of a marque that gradually loses impact. Witness the number of companies who celebrate 100 years in business as just about the last independent thing they do - maybe 4 generations is the limit? Sometimes the companies can be recreated around a personality, but if the cult of the personality takes over then I posit that there can be no successful continuation of that firm.

If there is to be buy-in to any concept relevant to the reality of running of a business and its products, that buy-in has to be into something tangible that surpasses the boundaries of the individual. A CEO looking out only for himself won't fit; an assembly worker uninterested in anything in the job or the product won't fit either. Being a member of a family (whether black sheep or bright star) does fit.

The tendency away from "home-grown" to "brought-in" talent, and the merciless analysis of individual performance is indicative of an environment that goes against personal undertakings and individual responsibility.

This thoroughgoing idea of personal product responsibility is one I'd like to think lies within Beyond Branding. In the past I've used images such as the Mafia to decide if a firm has what it takes - the Mafia is transparent to insiders (to the extent that everything is ordered from the top via personal contacts), it has a high level of integrity (admittedly a cultural one based on fear), but it has no interest in any product other than the amount of dough it can bring in, and a lot of interest in keeping personal involvement out of sight. In the minds of your experts, how would you place the Mafia in the spectrum of Beyond Branding?

Let me also express disappointment in something - you chose a logo for Beyond Branding! Logos can either sum up the enterprise or serve as something to hide behind. Remember Hubert Humphrey's words : "In real life, unlike in Shakespeare, the sweetness of the rose depends upon the name it bears. Things are not only what they are. They are, in very important respects, what they seem to be." You've staked out your terrain in the simple two word statement of this website - was there any need to provide an incomprehensible logo? Or is it meant to be a deeply ironic stab at the whole subject?
I hope other authors will respond above...
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