“Eat Your Peas” and Other Branding Lessons

Lessons learned through the journey of parenthood.

Guest Author Kim Horton 7.01.2013

When my primary job changed from brand builder to mom, I felt as though I’d been transported into an entirely new world. I never expected, however, that my new role of preparing tiny humans for their journeys into society would also provide some very important lessons for building great brands.

Define your goals and messages first

Our parenting goals are likely very similar. We tell our children to “eat your peas” because we hope that this will eventually translate into a respect for their bodies and health-conscious attitudes. We say “share with your friends” hoping our budding citizens will learn to think of others and develop empathy. We begin carefully tailoring these messages and impressing them upon our future adults before they even learn to walk.

Great brands, too, have defined their goals and messages and integrated these into their marketing and communications. But the best ones did it early. Just as trying to teach “sharing” to a 14-year old for the first time would be considerably difficult, brands that don’t outline and incorporate their key messages before they begin marketing will have a much weaker brand presence than those who take the time to think before they speak.

Be consistent

“Hey Mom! Dad said I’m too young to go to the movie with my friends alone. Do I really have to stay home?”
“Oh no, honey, it will be just fine if you go. I’ll get my keys and drop you off.”
An inconsistent message isn’t very effective.

Consumers are especially savvy at recognizing inconsistency too, so if your messages aren’t disseminated the same way across all points of contact, you not only risk the messages falling flat, but you risk losing credibility and potentially the very targets you’re after.

Know when to let go

Our children are not computers that we can program to turn out precisely according to our plans. On the contrary, these small wonders need more than “because I said so” to satisfy their inquisitive nature. Experts agree that giving them reasons behind the rules and the chance for their voice to be heard will actually make them more inclined to listen to us as parents.

Organizations alike can no longer control everything that goes into the world about their brand. Clear and consistent messaging is a necessity, but consumers don’t want to be force-fed ideas. They want to participate in the conversation. They want ownership in the process. Embrace this, and you just might gain the loyal followers you’ve been looking for.

If you haven’t yet nailed your key messages, streamlined your communications, or conversed with your consumer, don’t fret. Just as with parenting, it’s never too late to try.

Kim Horton is a Brand and Communications Consultant who has worked with non-profit, hospitality, retail, and various other clients to create and build their brands. Connect with her on LinkedIn, @kimhorton, or kimberly.m.horton@gmail.com.

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