Make your brand matter. Say no to mediocrity.

Few people purposefully set out with the intention of settling. In fact, initial ideas are often big and bold. So what chips away at them? What erodes a great concept and leaves you with pieces that just don’t fit together, or are simply not compelling? Unfortunately, there are many forces that must be battled in order to preserve a good idea. When facing this situation, the core question that must be addressed is whether there is an appetite to take on the fight. Will the view be worth the climb?

Regulatory pressure, time restrictions, established patterns and political sensitivities all can play a role in slipping down the slope and succumbing to mediocrity. But awareness of these situations is an important first step in gaining a foothold.

Regulatory pressures are very real. Impressions matter not only to targeted customers, but also to the government authorities and reviewers who ultimately define and control the boundaries in which we can communicate. It also causes many regulatory and legal representatives on our internal teams to be risk adverse and take the path of least resistance. Better to play it safe then chance disrupting the review process. But at what consequence? Once a regulatory precedence has been established it is always much harder to raise the bar. The key is to be responsibly aggressive. Compliant, but compelling. This is not just a battle that belongs to marketing, but to all who are responsible for the success of your brand.

Time restrictions frequently cause complacency. If there were just simply more time, things could be done differently. Time can be tough. We cannot move meetings and conventions. Deadlines loom like dark clouds before a storm. But the goal should not be to cross artificial finish lines. The reality is that deadlines are not endpoints, but starting points for communication. They represent the opportunity to begin a dialogue with constituents. As such, how much is going to be gained by rushing the process or shortcutting preparation? Fixation on a deadline can cloud judgment on whether it is the only opportunity that matters. And if it does matter that much, then all the more reason to make sure that you prepare your brand communication in a way that you can support over time. Better to take a small step in the right direction, then a larger potential misstep.

Established patterns of behavior and communication can be the most challenging to address because they necessitate self awareness and the discipline to challenge convention. The way you’ve always done it is not a strong rationale for repeating history. It is essential to differentiate between brand consistency (which should always be strived for) and patterns of behavior. Your brand can flex. It can be applied in a variety of meaningful ways while maintaining its integrity. Don’t fall victim to being too rigid with your brand communication. It should have room to breath. Make sure that what your communicating really matters to your constituents. Never compromise what makes your brand compelling and credible.

Political sensitivities can drive decision making. Understanding your organization’s environment and egos is essential. Sometimes this can be difficult to navigate. It takes courage to offer a counter opinion or challenge thinking from the corner office. Diplomacy, picking the right moment and clarity always help. Further, if you can power your recommendations not based on personal preference, but with market or customer evidence, you become the messenger, not the message. In these situations, you may ultimately have to back down, but there is value established for you and the brand when you try.

Brands soar when they are supported. They are embraced by the customer when they matter to the customer. Making something matter when communication is milky at best is a struggle. Be aware of what can lead to mediocrity. And then be bold, lift your brand higher and communicate compliantly, consistently and compellingly.

by Jonathan D. Katz

03/19/2016