Peter Schmidt-Hansen told us at the beginning of our very first exam on Brand Leadership,“Remember, there is no correct answer”. That is what branding is all about –at least for me and what I learned during the course and further practice. One of the most popular clichés about branding says that it is “not about doing right things but doing things right”. And here is the same thought again. The task of a brand manager is not to find the single right solution but to develop an idea (a BIG one is better=)) that will be many-sided but will still have identity in everything. It seems, if not easy, clear enough, isn’t it? But this is not quite so as I discovered during my personal journey into the world of brands and Branding.
Brand Leadership program in NBS at UEA was my first stop on this journey. I came to this course with a degree in economics and various work experience including tourism and hospitality to the last job I had at a cinema producing company where I was responsible for product placement. Other students were from very different backgrounds. Some of them had relevant work experience in marketing or even branding and others had no experience at all. But they all had one thing in common: they tried to think differently and they all had their personal views and opinions on all topics raised in and out of the classroom. Probably someone would call them creative young people. But I personally don’t love the word creative because I feel like it’s overused. I would rather call them people with irregular thinking.
From the very first task through all the following assignments and work on projects, in teams or personal ones, one main difficulty always pursued us. It was not about finding the idea or developing it to some final version, but to choose one. And that is, in my opinion, the biggest challenge to all brand managers of all time. When we approach a new brand task we start thinking and innumerable thoughts stream back and forth in our heads. So, when we were at the start of the course developing our first presentations, we always waited until our teachers or mentors would stop our quest and name one of the ideas “the best”. After that we felt we could start the project. But what is that invisible obstacle that’s so hard to overcome while making the final decision? I think it’s the lack of experience and lack of trust in yourself and your ability or talent even. At the beginning, we all need the approval of someone who’s more experienced and more skilled. But only a real Brand Leader can lead –choose the one idea that after brainstorming and endless re-thinking will work and therefore, become the Big one. This is the greatest miracle and it should become the most wanted skill for everyone engaged in Branding – to have the guts to make a choice and to stop looking for ideas. Move forward with the certainty that you have already found one.
That was my biggest problem, my Achilles’ heel, at the beginning. When I started working on a new project, I began with searching for ideas. I had plenty of them by the first day or even hour of thinking, but I needed someone to come and tell me, “Anna, this one is the best! Great job! Let’s focus on it and work with it!” But as there was only me to choose and decide, I wasted days and days, trying to think of something else, bigger and just perfect. What a fool!
So, what is the main purpose of my post? Don’t try to find the perfect idea. There simply isn’t one. Don’t waste your time searching for it and thinking again and again. Usually, a good idea comes to a fresh mind, which means during first 30-40 minutes of brainstorming. Believe in yourself, listen to yourself and be brave enough to make a final decision. After all, at the end, only that idea will be the right one that you will make work in the right way.
P.S. As I am still at the beginning of my Branding story, I would love to read comments and to know which problems you did not expect to meet during work with brands –or what is your personal challenge that follows you in every project and task? Let’s share our fears and achievements and therefore help someone to combat his or her weak points.