11.29.2012

Brands Are Stupid. So Are You For Trying To Be One.

Enough with this stupid discussion about “brands” and “branding” and “being a brand.”

We’ve become a bunch of business idiots.

Who talks like that?

(Insecure. Wannabe losers.  That’s who.)

It’s chicken-shit business.  Bottom-feeder “fake it ’til you make it” ignorant philosophy.

Seriously, a brand?  That’s what you’re trying to build?

What about changing the world?  Or helping people?  Why not just do right by others?

Why is it so hard to just do the right thing?

Isn’t that ultimately the key to being successful?  Doing what is right day in and day out — regardless of what people think about you at the time?

Yet all this foolishness around “being a brand” has us distracted from what really matters.

And the words themselves are stupid.   A brand?  Who invented that?

The imagery is absurd.

A brand is something that a cowboy burned into the side of a wild cow.  It was a crude but effective way to let the other ranchers know who owned what.  And it make it pretty damn difficult for an outlaw to put his grubby hands all over your property.  The brand was there unchanging for the life of the beast.

Isn’t that a stupid plan for your business?

Have we soured suddenly on flexibility, candor, and adaptation?  Learning and improving based on what we see happening around us?  It’s completely ridiculous to buy into the idea that your business (and you as a leader) need to create this magically coercive but unchangeable public image.

Times change.  Ideas change.  Technology changes.

If you are going to be successful then you need to change.  You need to learn from everything around and refine and reframe your own inadequacies to be a better company.  To be a better leader.

The idea of whitewashing your problems under the guise of “this is what we want people to think we really are” is contrived and stupid strategy.

So what’s important?

Here are few things that matter:

  1. Being who you are.
  2. Moving towards where you want to be.
  3. Communicating your intentions.
  4. Apologizing for your mistakes along the way.

That is what is important.

Not pretending like you’re something that you’re not.  Not refusing to change.

Want to be amazing?  Build a track record of achieving results.  Maintain a reputation of being honorable. Do what you think you should do even though you might look bad for a few minutes right now.

Brands are stupid.

Be a person.  An amazing person.

That’s not stupid at all.


  • D P

    Like capitalism becoming more altruistic.

    • http://www.DanWaldschmidt.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

      Give to others and you see it come back to boost your business..

      Dan

      • Susan

        Brands signify quality but if unable to afford the luxury then accept and spend accordingly. One can look best even with the cheapest best Sunday dress. It is how we wear what we have on us that makes us look a million dollar.

        • http://www.DanWaldschmidt.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

          Self-confidence goes a long way doesn’t it?

          Dan

          • Susan

            Indeed self confidence is a moral booster makes a tiny person like me look tall and stand out. Makes insecurity disappear. With regards to branding spending is really a personal choice and it is a free world we should enjoy the luxuries in life that we have worked hard for. I am for any company brand as long as it gives job to people and the economy get going fine globally thats great. I dislike misleading information to get gulible people to spend but then again one has to research before spending and if they didnt no ones to blame. I love quality stuff too. Cars for example I am happy to spend more on MX5 or Toyota because it is solid and value for money as I value my life it wont crumble during an accident. I spend more on sunglasses because I value my eyes as we have very harsh summer. Those are the little things I take into consideration that matters to me. What matters to others? Up to them its a personal choice. Thanks Dan I like your topics. Keeps my thinking cap going. Have a good day.
            Susie

  • http://twitter.com/blocki_ Ronald de Block

    I like your ‘So what’s important’ list :)

    • http://www.DanWaldschmidt.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

      Thanks, Ronald…

  • Robert Terson

    Here’s a fifth thing that’s really important: Keeping your word, following through on the promises/commitments you make.

    • http://www.DanWaldschmidt.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

      Right on, Robert. Right on. I like your perspective…

      Dan

  • http://markharai.com/ Mark Harai

    Dan, could you please tell us how you really feel?

    Love the attitude and truth behind your words.

    They carry weight because they’re spoken by a doer and not a wannabe, insecure, loser, shit-idiot. (Dang, that felt good!)

    “Be a person. An amazing person. That’s not stupid at all.”

    Love it!

    • http://www.DanWaldschmidt.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

      HaHaHaHa…How do I really feel?

      Yeah. I kinda went crazy man there didn’t I?

      Dan

  • Kesean Kenton

    What I learned about personal branding is opposite of what you mention here in this post. It seems more of a personal attack than information coming from factual sources. Being who you are, moving towards your goals, communicating your intentions, are part of the personal brand process. Your thoughts?

    • http://www.DanWaldschmidt.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

      Well, Kesean. Glad to hear that you are building a great reputation the right way. Keep learning. Keep moving forward.

      Dan

      • Kesean Kenton

        Thanks…re read my comment and it sounded offensive, but wasn’t meant to be if that was how it came off. I do agree that there’s a lot of talk about “personal branding” that’s filled with a bunch of buzz words and short term solutions. That is to say many people only teach methods, which is not a bad thing per se, but it will yield short term gains. My thing is to learn principles, where as methods change as the seasons do.

        But you’ve got some good content on your blog though.

        • http://www.WaldschmidtPartners.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

          Thanks, Kesean. I didn’t take your comment as being offensive. You brought up a good point.

          By the way, an attitude of “learning” is the right move.

          Dan

  • http://twitter.com/PeterSterlacci Peter Sterlacci

    Hey Dan. As a ‘personal branding’ consultant I will throw in my 2 cents. I really think the distinction that I like to make when it comes to personal branding is that it comes down to being your authentic self versus creating an image or facade. The true essence of personal branding are exactly the 4 points you mention. In Japan where I help people to uncover and communicate their authentic value, I often use the term reputation management versus brand management. The reality is that our reputation precedes us and with social media and people googling us all the time it is even more crucial for us to ensure we are not pretending like we are something we are not. People are making decisions about us based on who we are – our unique promise of value – so we want to ensure we are communicating this in an authentic, differentiating, and compelling way. Maybe in Japan, where fitting in has been the cultural norm, personal branding is becoming the game changer in an economy that is pretty bad. Remember what Dr Seuss says: “Today you are you, that’s truer that true. There is no one alive who is YOUer than YOU!”

    • http://www.DanWaldschmidt.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

      I tend to agree with you, Peter. But you are having an intelligent dialog about a stupid topic. :-) And that’s what drives me crazy.

      In a world full of companies who desperately need answers we are running around madly communicating the “wondersause” of branding. And it’s all contrived and foolish and short-term. And by “all”, I really mean “the stuff you read about in books and hear on webinars” — most.

      Dan

      p.s. I don’t have it all figured out. I just don’t like the shit I see..

      • Peter Sterlacci

        Got it. See your point. At the end of the day it is really all about putting your head on your pillow and feeling like it was all worth it!

        • http://www.DanWaldschmidt.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

          I agree with that, Peter. Good point..

  • GerhardV

    Well Dan, it looks like you stirred the pot again with this one…

    Brand recognition doesn’t mean automatic brand acquisition – value first, brand second! Knock it out of the ballpark and do some good.

    • http://www.DanWaldschmidt.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

      “Pot Stirring” seems to be a task that I undertake all too often… :-)

      Dan

      p.s. I agree with your premise. Be amazing. People will find you… Rinse and repeat.

  • http://dannybrown.me/ Danny Brown

    Ironically, brands are defined by those outwith “the brand”, by what that “brand” does anyway. So all those folks trying to shape their own “brand” are expending energy that could (should) be used elsewhere. You know, like changing the world, as you say.

    Good stuff, Dan, cheers – first time here, will definitely be back.

    • http://www.DanWaldschmidt.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

      Agreed, Danny. Those who decide what a “brand” should be end up winning. Everyone else just looks foolish…

      Dan

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