Branding is a Beach! That’s right I just came back from a week long vacation at the beach, and as I am sitting there watching the waves and watching people play in the waves I realized branding is a beach.
I sat there and watched as a family came and set up camp. We will call this family, Business A. They set up with elaborate tents with toys, chairs, BBQ’s, music, and making trips back and forth from the cars to the spot on the beach that they scouted out and deemed the perfect location for them to experience the waves. It took these families 30 minutes to set up and get everything absolutely perfect. Setting up the tent, pounding the stakes in the sand, laying out the chairs in perfect formation, laying out an area for the kids to play with toys, putting the ice chest in the shade and then, lathering up with sun screen and heading off to the waves.
I then found a family of the same size. We will call them Business B. They came up to the same area of the beach and just jammed an umbrella in the sand drop their ice chest in the sand along with their bags. They lathered up with sunscreen and headed off for the waves. It took them all of 5 minutes to hit the water.
Business & Branding
It dawned on me that this could be related to Business and branding. I looked at it as the water and the waves constantly coming in are your customers. The beach is your business. Some businesses such as Business A come in and spend the time for everything to be laid out perfectly and every aspect they would need was taken care of. Lunch was going to be grilled, chairs were strategically placed to be in the shade as long as possible, and were laid out in order to conduct conversations easily. Toys were laid out to keep the kids safe and on the other side of the tent from the BBQ.
Business B comes in throws up a quick area not thought out very well just lumped together in a heap. The umbrella only allowed a small area of shade, chairs were not laid out, toys to keep kids busy were not taken into consideration and lunch was sandwiches and chips.
I am sitting there and watching these families and I am drawing comparisons as businesses and I came up with this. Business A took the time to scout out what they thought was the perfect area, lay everything out and took time to address every need they could think of. It took them a little longer to get to the water and enjoy the waves though. Business B came in and dropped camp off and rushed straight in to the waves. They had already been playing for an extended period of time before Business A even made it to the water.
As I am sitting there watching this play out I am drawing the conclusion that Business A is more prepared and more organized. I am looking at Business B and saying they have no strategy or brand but they made it to the water first and have less overhead. As I watch the two I keep paying more attention to Business A just for the fact that they seem to be a much flashier and interesting business to watch.
Flexible Brand Guidelines
Then an interesting event happened. As I was about to deem them the king of the beach as far as set ups go, I noticed the tide was coming in quicker then expected. As the day drew to a close the water was approaching our camps and I noticed that Business B had already picked their camp up and moved it back several feet in order to play out in the waves a little longer. Business A was breaking down the tent, the chairs, packing up the toys and moving the grill back. It reminded me of a statement that I make to clients quite often. In the case of your marketing and your branding efforts in todays marketing landscape you must be able to adapt to your environments quickly and efficiently. This does not mean you need to be less flashy, or less strategic with your brand. And it does not mean taking less time to address all needs, it simply means make sure as you build your brand identity guidelines, you design your brand guidelines to be flexible and adjustable.
In the case of the two camps on the beach, Business B was flexible and less extensive. However it did not draw as much of my focus due to lack of effort put into the design and implementation of the camp. Yet, it was flexible and adjusted well to the environment and development of the rising tide. Business A was much more thought out and drew in much more interesting looks from not only myself but, also other passerby’s on the beach. However it lacked flexibility and ability to adjust to changes in the environment.
Branding efforts are easy to get wrapped up in. People start getting creative with the thought and the wide-open canvas of building the perfect brand. There is no perfect brand; the best brands are the brands that have been able to be flexible enough to adjust to changes in society along with immediate threats. When building the brand from concept it is important to remember you cannot effectively be everything to everyone. Keep the brand simple with the ability to be fluid and flexible.
As for the businesses on the beach, both were able to enjoy the surf and both were able to enjoy the day at the beach with what seemed to be times full of laughter and excitement, so at the end of the day both brands were successful and enjoyed success.