Ropes and Chains…

…and kinky boots.  Okay, forget the kinky part – it’s not that kind of blog.   I’ve been planning on posting something here about ropes and chains for quite some time now, but I keep letting the idea get too big in my head.  Really it is simple:  Chains are strong because the individual components, the links, are strong.  The chain is no stronger than any given link.  If you’ve got strong components, make a chain.   Ropes are strong, but they are built on an entirely different premise.  The rope is built on the assumption that any given component, a fiber, might be weak.  The rope’s strength comes from its structure – the weave causes each individual fiber to support and strengthen each other. It is only when the structure is compromised that the rope gets weak.

So what does this have to do with branding?  Well, are you building your brand as a chain or a rope?  Are you trying to forge a handful of powerful, strong, individual and expensive pieces to carry and support your brand positioning? Are you relying solely on individual contributors – a CEO, a spokesperson, one brilliant marketeer, a single flagship product? Or are you creating an infrastructure to support your brand that allows each individual contributor – each ad, each product, each tag line, each front line employee, even each customer –  to reinforce and strengthen the brand message by providing a context for their efforts?  

The “golden arch” is a familiar link in McDonald’s branding chain, but the training to say “Would you like fries with that?” is the brilliant evidence of a structure that allows each employee (weak or strong) to strengthen the rope.

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