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by Stephen Logan on 28th May 2012
When Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet, he probably didn’t have one eye on marketing connotations. However, that’s exactly what I’ve decided to extract from a hopelessly out of context passage from his timeless tale of star crossed lovers.
Essentially the qualities of the rose, which can translate to products, services or anything else for that matter, mean that the name is almost redundant. So whilst this may have been written in 1600, it should still resonate with brands today. It is what you do to improve interpretations of your brand that counts, this is where the reputation is built and the name is strengthened.
So what does this mean for modern businesses?
Well, you need to build quality throughout a brand, not just hide behind a name. Let’s say you get a bad review, you can either work hard to hide it or work harder to resolve the issue. Sure, big multinationals can rely on decades’ worth of reputation management to steer through choppy waters, but smaller companies don’t have this luxury.
A prime example would be the Royal Bank of Scotland or even BP. In the last couple of years both have suffered what would have been crippling damage to their reputation and credibility. However, such traumas are quickly forgotten by most, especially if the day-to-day running of the business remains consistent. NatWest (part of RBS) now employs the mantra of ‘Helpful Banking’ and BP are working hard to show their work in generating renewable energy sources and other environmentally-friendly causes. This creates an image of “moving on” – as do a few tactical, and very public sackings.
This is a classic example of where branding can sustain you; however, this isn’t always the case, in fact it rarely is. Whilst big brands are scarred by disastrous actions, smaller names are often mortally wounded. No amount of beautification or PR puff pieces are going to turn the tide.
What’s in a name?
The name of course is what people see first and will remember. However, it is the qualities that your business possesses that will turn them into customers and keep them coming back. So you can be everywhere – on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, news articles – but if you’re not able to deliver on the promises of your branding, then you’ll struggle to build a sustainable reputation.
Roses look pretty, have a soft floral scent and have become synonymous with romance. Without the aesthetic or aromatic qualities, it is unlikely that people would give them to their lovers on special occasions. Therefore, the name of the “rose” is built on a foundation of fundamental and popular qualities, which is why Shakespeare probably chose them as an example for Romeo and Juliet.
Fads come and go, just think of “clear cola”, but underlying qualities make for enduring appealing, think Coca Cola. Businesses should be looking to build a brand that will last for centuries, not just the foreseeable future. Develop an identity and work hard on improving the quality and variety of what you offer. Amazon used to be a bookstore, look at it now. People shop with Amazon because it’s a name that they have come to trust, but also because of free delivery, reasonable pricing and a huge range of products. They have adopted social media and other things as they’ve gone along, as have many big brands, finding new ways to spread the good word.
Most companies will start off with little more than an idea, a little collateral and a name. You can’t rule the world instantly from such humble beginnings and it would be foolish to assume that you could. Your first port of call is to build a solid foundation, attract some regular customers and then attempt to dominate your niche. In these formative stages, one false move can be critical.
Avoid techniques that may be viewed as unethical or that could come back to haunt you in future years. For instance, becoming reliant on one-off search engine traffic whilst also breaking a number of their rules is a huge gamble; just ask those sites that were impacted by the Penguin update. Sustainability online is built through an ability to identify opportunities and a willingness to improve all the time. If content is outdated, give it a spruce up. If you’re not getting much press attention, send out some PRs. Sometimes you need to make things happen, rather than waiting for it to land on your lap.
How will you market your business? Who are your primary competitors? How do you want to be portrayed by the wider world? What is your ultimate goal? These are the things that you need to be considering as you grow. By thinking too small or too big, you could derail the process early on. But never forget the rose, nor your brand. Good news and bad will stay forever associated with your brand; your job is to ensure that most of it is good, through positive engagement and consistent improvements.
So, as Shakespeare alluded to, the name may not be critical, but the associations that you have with it are.