Does 'Brand' Mean Anything?

I have had a post in mind  for a while now talking about what 'brand' and 'reputation' mean today. 

This isn't that post. I'll get around to it at some point over the summer.

But over the past two weeks, I've come across two posts (with a hat tip to a colleague for pointing me to Leroy's) which make strong and similar statements about brands that are certainly worth throwing into the idea mix:

Leroy Stick (not his real name), the person behind the satiric Twitter account @BPGlobalPR, says performance - not brand - is everything:

So what is the point of all this?  The point is, FORGET YOUR BRAND.  You don’t own it because it is literally nothing.  You can spend all sorts of time and money trying to manufacture public opinion, but ultimately, that’s up to the public, now isn’t it?

You know the best way to get the public to respect your brand?  Have a respectable brand.  Offer a great, innovative product and make responsible, ethical business decisions.  Lead the pack!  Evolve!  Don’t send hundreds of temp workers to the gulf to put on a show for the President.  Hire those workers to actually work!  Don’t dump toxic dispersant into the ocean just so the surface looks better.  Collect the oil and get it out of the water!  Don’t tell your employees that they can’t wear respirators while they work because it makes for a bad picture.  Take a picture of those employees working safely to fix the problem.  Lastly, don’t keep the press and the people trying to help you away from the disaster, open it up so people can see it and help fix it.  This isn’t just your disaster, this is a human tragedy.  Allow us to mourn so that we can stop being angry.

And here is what the inimitable Doc Searls posted not too long ago on his blog about reputation and branding:

That’s because brands are nothing but statements. At best they are a well-known and trusted badge, name or both. At worst they’re a paint job, a claim, a rationalization or an aspiration. Branding can help a reputation, but it can’t make one. Real work does that. Accomplishment over time does that.

Bit of a wake up call to communications professionals isn't it?

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