Branding Malpractice

One of those things which continually irks me dumpster happened again today. Actually, it happened months ago, but I found out about it today. I dropped in on one of my clients for a quick chit-chat, and she gave me a document that another consultant had done up for her some months back before I started working with her. I quickly scanned the three-page document while we were chatting. (I have to say that billing a client for a three-page meeting summary with no formatting or formally-supported recommendations is bad form; maybe that’s why he didn’t put it on company letterhead.) The document summarized a number of points about her business as she had provided them to the consultant, along with his idea for a change of name, logo, and colours. Oh, and there was a radio ad to kick off the whole list of changes.

I don’t know what this consultant charged to tell her what he did, but I told her –for free– not to talk to him anymore. I think she appreciated that, because he was telling her to change the things she like about her business and recommended replacing most of what she already had. Naturally, each recommendation carried its own price tag that didn’t seem to appreciate the size of the business to which he was making the recommendation. The thing that stuck in my craw though was that old branding misunderstanding where the company says they do branding, but really all they want to do is sell more creative services.

The offense this time was telling her to change the name of her business. This isn’t always the wrong thing to do, but in this case we’re talking about a business that has served its community from the same location for 80 years. And partway through the first get-acquainted meeting, Mr. Consultant was telling the owner to toss 80 years of brand equity in the trash bin and start from scratch. I’ll say it again: you don’t change your company name without a damn good reason. You gain brand equity just by having your name out there year after year, and this is part of the goodwill value of the business which is bought and sold. And after she paid for that when she bought the business, Mr. Consultant wanted her to pitch those dollars in the trash as well. It’s branding malpractice, that’s is what it is. (Maybe there needs to be a Mike Holmes for branding consultants: someone who steps in and “makes right” whatever bad advice other consultants have given to small businesses.)

When I got home, I went and looked at the website for the consulting firm. Call me snarky, but their logo reminded me of a swirling toilet bowl. At least they got that one right.