Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: Marketing Society - to Thine Own Brand Be True

Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: Marketing Society - to Thine Own Brand Be True

Article excerpt

In Hamlet, Polonius instructs his son Laertes as follows: 'This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.' This is one of Shakespeare's many passages to have entered the Western psyche. It also has a message for marketers.

The counsel 'to thine own self be true' is dissonant with the rest of the strongly prescriptive passage. Polonius is a sententious and moralistic character who advises conventional behaviour (ironically supporting a king who is a murderer). He stands for order and convention - or (corporate) governance.

Then suddenly comes this remarkable and empowering instruction, which more or less undoes all the rest, giving Laertes the option to do anything.

Laertes is both free to be creative, or we might say empowered, and at the same time challenged to achieve the highest expression of his potential.

This is paradigmatically the aim and method of governance in integrated marketing. Prescription is replaced by people with internally owned ideals rooted in the identity of the organisation. The brand then expresses itself coherently and consistently at all contact points, with the passion and creativity of the committed. So then, IBM, British Gas, Tesco - to thine own self be true and you cannot then be false to any customer or stakeholder.

This depends on being in touch with that real identity, that 'own self', making it a touchstone for action. Just as Laertes has a unique genius, so do (great) companies. …

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