Seamus Phan signature

Is strategic and tactical myopia crippling your brand and eroding its marketshare and mindshare? Why is making a cake similar to great branding?

I am seriously myopic (or shortsighted), and can see clearly perhaps an inch or two away from my eyeballs. If I go about the house with my eyes unassisted by eyewear or contact lenses, I may crush my toes against the bed post or the door frame. In no way should I operate machinery when my eyes unassisted by eyewear, hilarious as it sounds.

Until the policies change to allow me to use my medisave funds to get phakic intraocular lens (PIOL) surgery on my eyes, I am stuck with a heavy set of glasses against the bridge of my nose, or contact lenses. To me, PIOL surgery in my case is curative, NOT cosmetic surgery.

So, imagine if a company has serious myopia for its branding and marketing programs, and crushing into the market or getting knocked off the mindshare would be even more serious than my myopia.

Branding and marketing myopia often stems from a herd mentality (or mob mentality).

When the Internet first became commercially available in the mid-1990s, everyone started to rush to register domain names, set up “brochureware” websites, and animated every part of their website at the expense of usability and compatibility.

When Java became the programming language of preference just a couple of years later, everyone rushed into using the language for websites, middleware, and backend applications. I never liked Java, and always preferred more visual object-oriented scripting environments like HyperCard (or its later variants like LiveCode), or simple and elegant languages like PHP and Perl.

And then the dotcom era crashed and everything started to crawl back to normalization again. But excitement is what people looked for, and soon, new Web paradigms came along, such as social media in the recent years, from MySpace and Friendster, to Facebook and Google+.

The mad rush of the herd mentality made some companies focus almost entirely on social networks, at the expense of other marketing tactics and programs such as advertising on print and broadcast, outdoor advertising, or events. Some of the excuses seem to be that social networks presented simpler analytics and execution, often a mere fraction of what large-scale events and advertising can be.

Yes, to create a compelling TV commercial is expensive and time-consuming. Yes, to create a great print campaign requires much distillation of thoughts and ideas, and can be expensive as well. And yes, organizing a world-class event requires lots of human capital, time, and money.

And yet, for many companies that banked on social networks alone, may find some obstacles in becoming even more successful than they could be. Why?

Simple. Unless you are already on the summit of your game and your arena, there will be many more competitors hammering at the same market, with the same ideas, with the same resources. To scale to the summit requires more commitment to holistic marketing and branding, not less.

To beat your competitors along the journey requires you to address your prospects and customers and engage them in multi-sensory, multi-screen, and multi-emotive campaigns that span across print, broadcast (radio and TV), online (Web, video, social networks), outdoors, and events.

Your customers and prospects must be surrounded by your brand, so much so that you become so pervasive every corner they turn, preferably in both obvious and very subtle means. Not every tactical presence should be blatant and “in your face”, but should be subtle and almost subliminal, suggestive but not pushy. These branding and marketing programs will require lots of commitment – they cannot be created and delivered without serious commitment of thought, people, time or resources.

Every component of your branding and marketing campaign should be tightly integrated with each other, so that everything ties up neatly together. It is like baking a cake. Every ingredient should be complementary to each other, and when properly made, becomes a beautiful cake in form, and delicately delicious from outer layer to the deepest core. Nothing in a great masterpiece of a cake should stand out sorely by itself, but becomes a tapestry of great seamless taste and smell. It should be sophisticated enough that someone who eats the cake will know that it is a masterpiece, and yet something that can only be savored and not something anyone can easily replicate. That, is what great branding and marketing should be.

Make your brand stand out by taking time, pains, labor, and resources, to make your brand stick and your products become endearing to your market. Think holistic marketing and branding, and you may just find the summit of your journey something to savor when you run ahead of your competitors at the long road ahead.