I couldn’t agree more with this AdAge article.
In essence, it’s saying something marketing people in most companies believe, but not many practice:
A business’ brand and how genuinely they live that brand is more important to their bottom line than all of their advertising and Facebook messages they can put out.
It’s like the timeless, but ever-true adage… actions speak louder than words.
This is something I’ve always believe and tried to practice – and preach – wherever I’ve worked. And in one of my opportunities, I had a chance to work with someone who believe.
Before I moved to Seattle, I was fortunate enough to work with Bryan Lemonds of Caffeine Communications. He taught me that every brand should have a rally cry.
A rally cry is something that the CEO could read to the employee base that would inspire them and give them a sense of purpose. After a company has heard the rally cry, they should all be able to tell you why they come to work every day. It answers the question: “If we went away today, what would people be missing?”
Bryan Lemonds has done a lot of great work in his career, and he inspired me to make rally cry’s a foundational element in my brand strategy development work.
Here, for example, is my rally cry for GameHouse.com (it was work like this that inspired them to make me their first ever Brand Manager). For the sake of background, GameHouse is a casual games website. Casual games are video games that one can turn on, learn and start playing very quickly. It’s easy to get started and easy to leave. They’re not games that develop that requires expanding skills. They’re largely monotonous, but addictive games, like Tetris.
There are many casual game sites and they’ve largely become commodities. At the time, GameHouse was the only to identify the various ways players pay for the service and offer them all. Given that, and going through what research and observations of customer behavior and interactions we had, this is the rally cry I developed for GameHouse:
The alarm clock tells you when you have to wake up, but don’t get too excited about that shower. It hasn’t been the same since you had to put the restrictor in to save water. You can’t eat eggs – too much cholesterol. That cereal? Too much sugar. Careful when throwing things away – the banana peel goes in compost, but the plastic goes in recycling. That Styrofoam, unfortunately… THAT goes in the garbage.
No matter. Gotta get the kids off to school. Gotta get to work on time. But don’t drive too fast. There’s a speed limit, you know. And there are cameras all over making sure you don’t exceed it. You get to work, and lunch time is coming… but not for you. You’d love to go out for a burger, but it’s your only chance to exercise – and you have to exercise because obesity will kill you.
Society is full of people that don’t think we can take care of ourselves, and they’re making rules – lot of rules. And the rules follow us around everywhere we go. At home, at work, in the streets. It’s constant. You can only take so much before you wonder, “When do I make the rules? Who’s life is this, anyway?”
At GameHouse, we’re working to give you back some control over your life. We’re giving you choice. It’s your time when you say it is, and when you’re here, you can do what you want, the way you want to do it. Under the GameHouse roof, you can come and go as you please, and play the way you want.
GameHouse is your happy place. It’s a safe haven where no one expects anything of you. It’s your time to play… and play the way you want. You want to own the game, and play on your schedule? You can. You’d rather have unlimited access to our entire catalog? You can do that, too. Sure, our games work on a PC. Just got a Mac? No problem. We have a catalog of quality games for that (and the iPhone, too… not to mention other smart phones). Want to socialize and play with others? Play our community games.
You come to GameHouse for many reasons. Maybe you want to escape. Relax. Maybe you want to exercise the mind a bit. Or, you’re just looking to make a friend with someone with the same taste in games. We house only quality games that will take you away, exercise your brain and even just kill a little time. Whatever you’re hoping to find – it’s up to you. We won’t tell you what to do. In fact, we’re hoping you’ll tell us what to do. All lines of communication are open, and we want to know what you want. Talk to us in our forums, our game reviews – offsite on Facebook. We even publish our phone number right on the site so you can call us directly.
We know you’re obsessed with your number one priority – you. Well, you could say GameHouse is a bit obsessed, too… with games. We play games at home. We play them at work. Heck, we play them on the bus on the way to work. We build games for a living. We’ve played good and bad games, but we’ve put only the great ones on our website. You should spend more time playing games, not searching for a decent one. You can try all of the games for 60 minutes before deciding if you’d like to play.
So tomorrow, you’ll wake up and do it all over again. You’ll follow the rules as best you can (and skirt a few here and there). You’ll go along to get along. But to those who find their escape… find themselves, in games, you can rest easy tonight knowing there’s a safe haven. There’s a happy place. A place where you can play on your terms. A place where choice and freedom reign. A place called GameHouse.
But as the article I linked to points out, if you don’t live it, customers will be able to see right through what you say and only form an opinion on what you do. GameHouse was not interested in delivering on their brand, I moved on and they continue to lose marketshare.