Who’s Painting Your Brand’s Portrait?


Corporate branding has been around as long as corporations have.  From McDonald’s “doing it all for us” to BASF’s “making the things we use better,” the names behind the name brands have put their images out for the world to see. The difference today is, if they don’t, someone else can and will.

Major corporations like P&G, Google and Johnson & Johnson are seeing the graffiti on the wall. They’re coming out with brand portraits that illustrate their histories, philosophies and dedications to global goodness that stand apart from selling the brands that make them profitable. P&G is “dedicated to moms.” Microsoft isn’t just about Windows and SharePoint servers, it’s about “Your potential” and “their passion.”

They want consumers and investors to view them with not just positivity, but ardent affection. Basically, the generic line for any corporation could be, “We don’t want your money. We want to improve your life. (And we love your children and your pets, too!)”

Big bucks had best be flowing, because the infinite capillaries of the Internet are gushing with comment threads, tweets and forum trollz telling their own versions of a corporation’s story.

Take Monsanto. They desperately want a corporate brand portraying their agricultural miracles riding beams of heavenly light through ranks of cherubs (and who wouldn’t?) Legions of detractors marauding through social media, with their spray cans and chalks, are painting a more lurid picture in cancerous blacks and bloody reds. It’s Michelangelo vs. Banksy. Who will win?

This is a growing challenge to corporate brands, as consumers take more and more control of the paintbrush.

Corporate branding can’t be a sketch on a napkin. It needs to be a masterpiece that every player in the business, from the CEO to the cashier, appears in. And a lot of that picture better hang at eye level with social media users, as well as in prestige spots on TV, in magazines and outdoor. It’s a huge commitment of thought, action and dollars that has to be sustained to gain street cred. That’s a lot of paint and gilt framework in an economy of Crayons and No.2 Pencils.

John Graham, Copy Director @ Creative Dimensions