Branding: time for a bit of rough trade

Branding used to be about polishing and smoothing to make shiny images of products and services that we’d all admire.

These shiny things would have USPs propositions and such. There’d be manuals to try and make sure everyone kept to the script, to achieve perfection.

But shiny things have a problem: they don’t generate much friction. They’re hard to hold onto. And you don’t want people’s fingerprints to spoil the look. The laminate on the glossy brochure is like a glass case at the museum: look, but don’t touch.

Now branding needs to celebrate the rough… the inconsistent… different people saying different things about different bits of you.

It’s not as pretty and easy to control… but it’s how you create friction, how you create more and more places where your product or service can get a bit of traction with the rest of us.

3 thoughts on “Branding: time for a bit of rough trade

  1. Tom Asacker

    Hi Johnnie.

    Great posts today.

    This in particular.

    Think what you’ve hit on is the difference between machines (old-paradigm) and Go human-networks (new paradigm)

    Taylorism vs 2.0.

    Go outside now…

    Sun shine etc.


    Love the metaphor! Very well said indeed Johnnie.

  2. Michael Wagner

    Really like this post Johnnie.

    It gets at the necessary incompleteness of a brand, something I reflected on not too long ago.

    A brand dare not be perfect…or so perfect that no one dare leave their fingerprints on it. It needs to be incomplete. Rough. Human.

    Thanks for enlarging the conversation.

    Keep creating,


  3. livingbrands

    April’s Top Blogging

    As promised, at little more succinct this time round… Imagination alters your brain In praise of the unpredictable When brands fall down Free is not a benefit My strategy is showing Born to pun Buying pain Ideas Heroes raises the


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