Welcome to the first meeting of our branding task force,” said Kernel. “Where do we start?” asked Wanda. “I’ll start with you,” said Kernel. “Why are we here?” asked Wirtz. “The relentless pursuit of perfection,” said Kernel. “I’m loving it,” grumbled Scanelli.
There’s been a ton of nonsense spouted about branding over the years, so Kernel, Nimbus’s vice-president of whatever’s on his mind today, added to the noise. It began a week ago, when he challenged Wanda, our general manager, over Nimbus Co.’s brand identity. “We make consumer products and aerospace components,” he said. “We need an overall brand positioning that will entice consumers to buy more from us.”
“But we serve different markets,” said Wanda. “That’s like saying, ‘If you enjoyed your flight to Regina today, why not buy a fighter jet?'” “People who like people have a branding statement,” said Kernel. “You don’t leave home without it.”
“All right,” conceded Wanda. “Have it your way.”
So, yesterday, Kernel chaired the first meeting of our branding task force. (I let him chair, since certain ideas must be punished.) Arriving in the boardroom, we were greeted by an array of Frisbees and tennis balls. “Did you bring your toybox to work?” sneered Wanda. “They’re creativity props,” said Kernel. “They bring good things to life, and let you be all that you can be.”
“If you want creativity,” sniped Scanelli, our director of strategic alliances, “why are you mouthing clichÃ©s?” “Think outside the bun,” said Kernel. “These are the world’s most famous branding statements. Each of them has moved more product than Nimbus Co. will sell in our lifetimes.”
“Let’s just do it,” said Wanda. “Not bad,” said Kernel, writing it down on his hand. Then he pointed to his flip chart: “When I say ‘Nimbus Co.,’ give me the first phrase that comes into your head.” I shuddered; my name’s on the front door.
“Good products,” suggested Wanda. “No capital,” said Scanelli. “Front door needs paint,” said Wirtz, our foreman. “This may take a while,” said Kernel.
He then asked Jane, our sales manager, to discuss branding. “It’s an overall communications initiative that reveals who you are and what you stand for,” she explained. “It’s the sum total of the emotional content of your product, the benefits it produces and the company behind it.”
“So, what’s the real difference between a brand statement and a slogan?” asked Scanelli. “About $1 million,” said Jane.
“Why can’t good products just speak for themselves?” asked Wirtz. “Because there’s too much noise and competition in the marketplace, and it’s getting worse,” I answered. “But Telus says the future is friendly,” said Wirtz.
Kernel drew our attention to the toys on the table. “Playing stimulates our creative centres,” he said. He realized his mistake as a deadly fusillade of tennis balls and flying disks pummelled him to the ground. “Help!” Kernel moaned. “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”
“That’s it!” shouted Jane. “There’s our branding!” Everyone looked at her, not quite following-as usual. “Our products don’t matter; it’s the problems they solve. Our brand statement should explain how we help our customers stand up in a cold, cruel world!”
“How’s this for a slogan?” said Wirtz. “Because so much is riding on your small kitchen appliances.” “Um, getting there,” said Jane.
Suddenly, everyone was talking. In 20 minutes, we had three branding statements we loved. No one could choose a winner, so I saw an opportunity for decisive leadership: “Let’s ask my readers to decide.” So here are our three favourite branding statements. Let me know which one you like best, and why, and we’ll run the results in a future issue.
“Life is short. Live it with Nimbus.”
“Nimbus: Turn your kitchen into the family room.”
“Advanced composite aerospace materials. Fun kitchen appliances. Trust Nimbus at home and away.”
And if you think you can do better, let us know. Send your thoughts to cumulo.nimbus@PROFIT.rogers.com by Friday, May 5. There’ll be prizes.