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10/13/09

Building a Brand is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

While running the Chicago Marathon recently, I found myself thinking about a brand strategy initiative we are undertaking at MindTree. To help pass the time during the race, I started thinking about how preparing and running in a marathon (a 42k/26.2 mile race) is similar to the early stages of brand building. At first, one may think this comparison is a little bit of a stretch….and it is. But amuse me for a few minutes and allow me to explain how this thought came into being.

A brand is a promise of benefits and values. It is developed from every experience or exposure your clients have with the Company. In other words, the brand is more than your company’s products or services. Similarly, the marathon is much more than the race itself. It is all the experiences leading up to it-how you train, how you eat, how you sleep, how you manage through injuries and setbacks. In other words, how you manage all aspects of your personal and professional life.

A brand ambassador will take the time to assess and understand the industry marketplace. What are the opportunities in your industry in the next 3, 5 and 10 years? And which are the most relevant to the pending success or failure of my brand?

A success marathoner will also need to assess the marketplace, which in this context is defined as the marathon course and forecasted weather conditions. Is the course flat and fast? Or is it hilly? Regarding the weather, is it going to be cold, hot, clear or raining? Will there be a prevailing headwind, crosswind or tailwind the day of the race? All these factors (and more) should be considered in the weeks and days leading up the race.

It is also important for the brand manager to understand the Company’s place within the market. Review its products or services and then map them to your Company’s strengths and weakness (SWOT analysis); and finally, determine which one(s) will impact your company long-term.

A marathoner also needs to internally assess his or her running weakness. If it’s a hilly course, are you a good uphill or downhill runner? If it’s going to be very hot for running long distance–say 70 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter–how does this affect my strategy for hydration, nutrition, and pacing during the race?

Finally, when the marathoner and brand manager have completed these steps, it is time to create and execute a brand (race) strategy that will get you to the finish line healthy and happy. Here’s hoping your brand strategy invokes a “runner’s high” for you and your Company.

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