Realizing your assumptions were wrong.
Growing up my grandparents spoke French. My father spoke French. My aunts and uncles spoke French. We had French food, celebrated holidays in the French tradition. We were French. My name is Louie Laurent. Can’t get much more French than that.
I kind of built my personal brand around being French. I bought hats that made me look a little more French. I went to France and thought I saw the faces of my relatives on the streets of Paris. I told everyone that I was just about a 100% French.
Then my son gave me a DNA test for Christmas. So, I spit in the tube and sent the kit off. Turns out, I’m 80 percent English and only ten percent French. English!!!! Suddenly, the foundation of my personal brand crumbled. It was built on hearsay and not truth. Now I supposed I can be forgiven because Calais — where my family immigrated from — is right across the channel from Dover. It makes sense.
Now you can build your brand on false pretenses and be successful for a while. Maybe a long while if the truth about your brand doesn’t come to light. The truth of your brand is found in the reality of your customer’s perception of your brand.
We’ve had many instances of companies coming to ZLR Ignition thinking that they are one thing to their customers only to find out that they are actually another. They thought they were a product when the customer was buying a service. The company thought the brand was in their people, when the customer was buying prestige.
Just like I thought I was French, only to find out that my love for French Bordeaux should have been a love for cream ale served in a pint glass. Actually, I do like cream ale. My love for paté should have been a love for blood sausage (which is not going to happen).
So, my advice to all the CMOs and brand managers is to know what your brand is and not just what you think it is. Regardless of what your internal audience/family tells you, don’t take their word for it. But you can’t spit in a tube to find out. The person who knows the truth about your brand is the person who buys what you sell. Ask them.