Before there was Google Maps, before there was Waze, before Siri, we used to be get into cars and drive to places we had never been before, without software. Only a couple hundred years ago we navigated by trails, celestial guides and landmarks.
Branding is a little old school like this. We create trails that over time become worn and easy to follow. We branders provide general direction that with navigational tools-of-the-day help move individuals and masses toward our objective, e.g., sight, sounds, smell and other replicable assists.
When there were fewer products and less media choices branding was easier. Less clutter. Also less people touching and managing the sales channel.
Eight to ten years ago I used to rail against pop marketers who boasted how consumers were in control of brands. Not brand managers. Marketing pundits made millions touting this drivel. But consumers can only plot a map to themselves. “Follow me.” Not toward a brand.
Brand planners study consumers, landscapes, general directions and landmarks, then put on their big boy/girl pants and set the trail. A trail that is easy to follow.
Life and branding ain’t a grid. And in today’s digital world it can be even messier.