I Am What I Am
Popeye uses the phrase “I am what I am” as a statement of why he behaves the way he does, embracing his basic nature and not trying to be something he’s not.
More companies should follow Popeye’s credo. We often see companies “brand” and/or “rebrand” themselves in hopes of being seen in a new light. They hire an agency that is more concerned about serving their own interests by changing the client’s name, designing a new logo, and developing a new tagline. In doing so, the agency creates an image that isn’t true to who the organization is. They tend to overlook the company’s history, culture, and personality, resulting in a shiny paint job that has no depth, meaning, or connection.
Companies like Target, Subaru, and Verizon know who they are, whereas companies like Sears, Chrysler, and CenturyLink lack something that creates a connection in their public identity. All six of these organizations have slick and professional logos, brand marks, taglines, graphic guidelines, and marketing to boot, but the latter three lack a focus and a depth that makes the first three stand out in the mind of a consumer.
Branding is not only about what is on the outside but also what is on the inside. It is about an understanding of the organizational DNA and how that connects to a customer’s need.
In addition, a company’s brand needs to be something that can be owned because it showcases their true identity, not just some idealized image of what someone thinks it should be. Audiences admire authenticity, and people will support a brand that they believe is genuine.
Branding must be an evolution, not a revolution. Understand who you are and what position your organization can own, and most importantly, be true to yourself. At the end of the day, you should be able to proudly proclaim “I am what I am” and actually mean it.