Here’s where I’m going with this. Several weekends ago and out of curiosity, I walked into one of those humongous stores that sells Halloween costumes. With weeks to go until Halloween, I was surprised to see how busy the store was.
This holiday (if that’s what you call it) is huge. Bloomberg Businessweek (October 14, 2013) reported that “Overall, an estimated 158 million people will do something on Halloween and spend some $6.9 billion doing it.” (Doesn’t sound like a tough economy to me.)
Everywhere in the store, the same drama was being played out. People picked up a mask or costume and, while looking in a nearby full-length mirror, held the mask or costume in front of them. Instantly they took on the persona of that character – imitating mannerisms and body language of that character.
It was nothing less than instant rebranding. One minute a human in street clothing; the next Godzilla.
Well, it’s fun to think that in this world of make believe, we can be whatever and whomever we want – instantly transformed and rebranded from “me” to whatever I chose to be. So I got into the spirit of the place. (Actually, I tiptoed in.)
I found a curly Little Orphan Annie wig that would have transformed me instantly. (No, I didn’t try it on in public.)
There was a bin of Richard Nixon masks––drastically reduced. Within a minute, there I was slipping the mask over my face, stretching the elastic band behind my head, and looking in the mirror. Almost immediately, I was holding both arms up in the air and giving Nixon’s familiar “V” victory sign in each hand and simultaneously mumbling, “I am not a crook.”
The one that thrilled me the most was the Batman mask. I’ve always been a Batman fan and I’ve always identified with the Caped Crusader. Mostly, I just wanted to drive the Batmobile and have my own cave. Holy charade! One minute I’m me; the next minute I’m Batman (albeit considerably shorter and more portly) holding the keys to the Batmobile!
Sometimes I get the feeling that businesses try to rebrand themselves just as quickly. Whatever their motivation to do so, they feel they can hold up a costume or put a new mask on their organization and be instantly transformed into a new, improved business that everyone will love and adore and, of course, buy from.
It’s not that easy. After all, branding isn’t what we think or how we feel, it’s about how the world feels about us and how it sees us.
And that kind of rebranding is serious business. It should occur strategically when it becomes necessary to change a significant component of the business, product, or service – either to respond to market conditions, to keep up with economic and market changes, to gain a competitive advantage, to reach out into new markets with new products or services, to reposition those products or services, and so on.
But regardless of the reason, the operative word in rebranding is “strategically.” Holding a mask up to your corporate face is easy. But the way I see it, when you do that, it’s nothing more than an attempted quick-fix… unlike rebranding that is a commitment with long-term consequences.
The more I think about it, that Batman idea just isn’t me. I think I’ll dress up as a business consultant, grab one of those plastic pumpkin candy buckets, start knocking on doors in the neighborhood, and do my best not to scare the little kids.