Strong Men Tremble When They Hear It?

Ronnie Pickering thinks he is well known.

He is not.

He is your classic small-town, small-minded, small-penised buffoon.

We’ve all encountered his sort before: full of trumped-up, untrammelled and unnecessary aggression.

Jarvis Cocker used to write songs about people like Ronnie Pickering.

But what is striking about the viral video in which Mr. Pickering ‘stars’ is his assumption, indeed his insistence, that his reputation somehow proceeds him.

To be fair to him, it does now. But it certainly didn’t before he hilariously menaced a motorcyclist and secured over a million hits on YouTube.

It’s an uncomfortable truth, but there are many brands who behave in a very similar way.

One of my first questions to any new client is:

‘Why should anyone, anywhere, give a shit about your organisation?’

This, no doubt, sounds pretty brutal. To an extent, it is. But the world is brutal, especially to brands.

This is for two key reasons:

1) We live in an age of unparalleled brand ‘noise’ – outdoor, indoor, laptop, mobile, TV, Facebook, print, bus stops, tube stops, Twitter, digital, radio, the list is endless.

2) Most human beings are just too busy getting on with their own lives, keeping the wheels on their own particular machine, to give two hoots about much else at all, and certainly not many brands.

And so part of the trick for brands in the 21st Century is to think about what it is that makes you relevant. What gives you locus in the lives of your consumers?

Why should anyone care about your business? What would happen if it wasn’t there?

If you can’t answer these questions effectively then you have no legitimacy as a brand.

Think of the human mind as a room: the most valuable, hardest-to-reach media real estate in the world. What, in and amongst everything else, gives your brand reason at all to be ‘in the room’?

Purposeful marketing has become a cliché. And too many folk think of it as another marketing fashion or craze; something that sits on top of – as opposed to behind – all your usual external activity; an addendum.

Needless to say, it isn’t. It is something that informs not just what you do, or who you are, but why you do it.

Discovering the essence of that central truth, or your brand’s purpose, isn’t easy. And it isn’t something that can be done overnight. It needs careful reflection and consideration. Crucially, whilst the ‘Why’ needs to be owned internally, it also requires some sort of genuine, and third party, challenge.

Without an external friendly ‘foil’, brands typically descend, wittingly or otherwise, into adopting self-serving shibboleths that masquerade as ‘purpose’.

This is the corporate equivalent of being in the pub with all your friends and agreeing generally that you are the ‘hardest man’ in whichever one-horse town and surrounding area you all live in.

In such a scenario, it all makes total sense to you – not least because your immediate environs continues to provide multiple examples of substantiating ‘evidence’.

However, for the rest of the world, your claim (on the very odd occasion where it might – by accident – be encountered) is a matter of, at best, ridicule, and at worst, irrelevance.

Neither feels good, as a ridiculous and irrelevant little man called Ronnie Pickering will tell you.

– this piece first kindly published by The Marketing Society