The problem with any industry is that it includes some inept practitioners. The marketing industry is no exception to this. If you have retained a marketing research firm, brand consultant, marketing agency, brand identity firm or other outside expert that displays any of the following, reconsider using that entity or individual for brand strategy work:
- They talk about trustworthiness, integrity or say, "to tell you the truth." It has been my observation that individuals and organizations that talk about these things are the ones for whom the truth does not come naturally.
- They are happy to reposition your brand without extensive customer research.
- They do not have a deep knowledge of marketing research techniques.
- Their only employees are graphic designers or copy writers. (To be fair, although rare, I have known some very strategic graphic designers and copy writers.)
- They create brand positions that focus on more than one or two brand benefits or values.
- They use lots of confusing jargon. ("If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.")
- You end up with any of these brand positions: "We are the brand leader in the XYZ industry." "We are the innovation leader in the XYZ industry." "We are the quality leader in the XYZ industry." "We are the customer service leader in the XYZ category."
- They immediately jump to specific tactics such as social media, advertising campaigns or websites rather than strategy.
- They have a system that labels your brand as one of a few specified types, such as one of twelve archetypes. I was made aware of one firm that charged clients for determining if their brand was a bear, dolphin, wolf or lion.
- Everything in their proposal seems boilerplate. It probably is.
- They seem to tell you what you want to hear rather than what you need to know. That is, they cater to the client's whims whether or not those whims are supported by the data and sound thinking.
- They sound more like slick salespeople than serious, thoughtful consultants.
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