You get to name it, nurture it, delight in its successes and ache through its failures. Parts of it you mold in the image of yourself. Parts of it are purely original. It is the source of many of your greatest joys. It keeps you up at night.
The thing about brands, like kids, is that even though you think of them as “yours,” they’re not. They’re individuals…separate and distinct from you. Each with their own destiny, their own ways of doing things, their own life.
As marketers and parents, our most important role is to get them off to a good start, then cultivate them as they grow. And when they occasionally get off track, we must take whatever steps necessary to make sure they respect themselves and what they stand for.
It is no accident that the traits you want in your children, you also want in your brand: values, character, and personality, to name a few.
So how do you properly parent your brand?
1) Do your best to get your brand off to a healthy start. Define your purpose, values and stance early.
2) Protect it. Defend your values in the marketplace by only do things in alignment with your brand. Remember back in 1996 when the wholesome, family-friendly Kathie Lee Gifford was outed as using sweatshop labor? Disaster.
3) Don’t over-protect it. You must give your brand room to breathe. To grow and learn. Today, this often this means providing opportunities for fans and customers to participate in the brand.
4) Be patient. Know that "great" brands usually take years, if not decades to establish.
5) Smile and enjoy the ride. You’re going to get frustrated. That’s normal. Things aren’t always going to go they way you planned or hoped. So what? You’re brand may be better for it. Don’t let your expectations be the only measure of your brand’s success.
Parenting, of any sort, can be terrifying, exhilarating and humbling. Good luck.