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Branding Story: Some People Don’t Get It

Getting the Point of Branding

This post is way different from the usual - way off the beaten path - but the incident this post references to still sticks in my mind, even after a couple of years. So I thought I would just comment on the incident.

Every once in a while I will receive a notice that one of the bloggers on LinkedIn, named Liz Ryan, had posted something new, and the notice will trigger a memory. Liz Ryan is a HR type person who has founded her own company to change the way hiring/recruiting and people management is done. She says that the old corporatist way no longer works and that corporations need to get more human (or humane). She is very much about empowering the individual and about taking control of your destiny.

Because she is about bringing your whole self and about being more human, her articles and website are different...very different. Both the articles and her website are more colorful and the corporate HR jargon is missing. Here's her site so you can see what I mean. Instead of photos, she uses drawings done in crayons and markers. Liz Ryan does her drawings, writes the blogs, is an opera singer, was previously a HR VP of a 500 Fortune company and is now a CEO of her own company and has recently written a book. Kind of an all-around Renaissance person. As you can see from the website, her whole persona is less about the corporate and more about the human. I first caught sight of her articles because of her drawings. They drew me in because they were different. The drawings are so distinctive that I can recognize a Liz Ryan article from far way. The drawings are bright, cheerful and personable.

So why am I writing this post about her? Well, occasionally, after I read articles, I will read the comments to see how others perceive the article. In general, most people commenting are very supportive. Her articles are very non-political so she doesn't receive trolls, as far as I can tell. But once, someone commented on how unprofessional her drawings were and that they look infantile.

And I vaguely recall that the commentator was a marketer.

Hunh, sounds like the person didn't get the branding.

It looked like the commenter didn't understand what Liz Ryan's branding was: being authentic and human rather than a corporate drone. Liz is presenting herself as a warm and personable person spearheading the effort to change the way we treat people in the workplace. I would have thought it was obvious what Liz Ryan is trying to achieve with her brand look, but I guess some people just don't get it. The branding message just went way over the commentator's head.

I wonder how the commentator is doing as a marketer.

Now my website...I guess you could call it confused. But I'm also experimenting and trying out different things so I guess that could be part of my persona. I have the logical, mathematical side and the creative, artistic side and they blend into one weird mixture. So to mimic the ethos of Austin, let's keep this website weird.

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