Ask Lindsay Blog

Is brand just spin?

Lindsay Says

No. A brand that is just spin is simply a bad brand. 

Does defining the meaning of your business sound like “just spin”?

I hope not. Defining and guiding toward what your business stands for is the crux of your job as a leader. 

But if you believe brand is just spin, you’re not alone. It’s a common misperception stemming from fuzzy definitions of brand and conflation of the word with spin. 

You might hear, “it’s just brand,” – in other words, it is fluff, b.s., a gloss coat applied as an afterthought. 

It’s true that some brands are nothing but a hollow shell of lies. But that’s not because they are brands. It’s because they’re bad brands. They were developed thoughtlessly, likely in the absence of customer empathy and integrity. These bad brands force themselves into a corner where their owners believe they can mask the rot underneath in a bath of cheap perfume.

Avoid the Need for Spin Altogether

People might resort to spin when they have no substance to communicate, nothing valuable to share. So they concoct something to distract, dissemble, disguise. Something that tastes good but is all empty calories. Something they borrow from a competitor. Something they fabricate. They may be particularly likely to use spin when they’re in trouble, when they’re on the defense.

It’s not only dishonest to fabricate. It’s lazy. Any time a brand does not make and fulfill a real promise, it is disingenuous toward customers, the lifeblood of the business.

Ask yourself this: How deep and lasting a relationship do you want with your customers? If you’re a fly-by-night salesperson who never expects to see the customer again, maybe spin will serve you. (And remind me never to shop with you). 

If you want to build a long-term relationship of trust, with repeat business and customer loyalty, you must make a robust, relevant, differentiated promise and then deliver on that promise in spades again and again, with everything you do, from the big things to the small things.

Brand Is in Your Customer’s Mind

We’ve talked about what brand is not. Let’s talk about what brand is. Brand is what you stand for in the mind of your customer. It’s how you build lasting value by delighting customers. It’s why your business deserves to exist. 

I work with my clients to create ironclad brands for them. An ironclad brand doesn’t resort to spin, because it finds the intersection between what truly serves the customer and what truly serves the business. It transparently, succinctly, and boldly activates that vision and then communicates it.

Beloved, Trusted Brands Are Empathetic

When I ask my clients to name brands they love, they regularly mention Patagonia, Salesforce, Slack, Trader Joe’s, and Volvo, among others. What makes these brands loved? They are empathetic. They genuinely care about their customers and seek to serve them with integrity. Empathetic is one of 9 criteria for an ironclad brand strategy. Ironclad brands do not need to be lazy and stoop to spin. 

An empathetic brand enables you to create value that precludes resorting to spin. Empathy allows you to gain deep insight into your customer’s world, with the humility to consider honestly what your business uniquely delivers to your customers. 

An ironclad brand encompasses the competitive environment, the customer need, and your unique strengths. No gloss, no perfume, no spin. Just the growth and expansion of the meaning that only you can bring.

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