What is Your Brand?

BrandThere are many ways of looking at your brand, from an identifiable term, logo or phrase to a specific feature that makes you unique from others.

At the recent Future of Libraries institute http://www.thefutureoflibraries.org/, leading directors discussed their unique value proposition in a community or academy (beyond pandering, glad tidings and clichés) and their “brand”. One director took a family member to the library who was amazed at what was on offer (“you’re f***ing kidding, right?) . Todd Kyle posted on this as a potential marking campaign (only somewhat tongue in cheek) at http://nplceo.wordpress.com/2014/05/05/new-marketing-campaign/

So, my point? Well, it is fine to have a brand but you have to deliver. Moreover, you have to be consistent, congruent and aligned throughout the organization.

My example this week? And no, I am not being negative, just making the observation…

On Saturday I was visiting a friend in another area of the country. We went early (well not too early) on a Saturday morning to the farmer’s market. This is a regular urban market in a building. It was large, bright and busy.

I was interested to see that the public library (a dynamic urban affair by reputation) had a sign, so I wandered over. I am not sure what I expected but what I saw was a semi-closed room (every other booth was open) and a table with children’s colouring gear and paper. There were three or four young people (teens), perhaps volunteers, and a couple of preschoolers colouring and playing. Although there was a big sign warning people not to just dump their kids (stated somewhat more elegantly) there was no sign of a parent or caregiver on quick look.

That was it. Well, there was a bookshelf of “tired titles”.

Unrealistic Expectations?

Perhaps at least one terminal (there is wifi in the building, indeed in the city) and a sign about the amazing resources?  Perhaps a kiosk of bestsellers to borrow? Perhaps a e-station from which to request and pickup/return next week? Perhaps an hourly discussion group? I don’t know… but a room for preschoolers to colour, only? Really?

So what is the takeaway?

For the user, the library is a good place for the small percentage of the population who have preschoolers to take their kids to colour, and you might borrow some books too.

For the Library, this may or may not be the “modern” image or brand you wish to project to an audience of thousands of people wandering by…

About Ken Haycock

Ken Haycock is currently Research Professor of Management and Organization at the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California, where he coordinates graduate programs in Library and Information Management.

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One Response to What is Your Brand?

  1. anthony bernier May 13, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    Regarding A “brand,” that single “identifiable term, logo or phrase… that makes you unique from others.”

    “But, oh,” they say, “we just do SO MANY things that it would be impossible to identify _one_ thing.”

    If I’ve heard that once I’ve heard it 176 times; it’s an inability and unwillingness to focus, prioritize, and be persistent.

    That’s the real issue, it seems to me. Not merely “having” an aligned and congruent brand.