On Time




Certain things need time to come into their own. Cheese for example, or wine, Grappa, even men. And not seldom the same applies to brands. To many companies this time element poses the first real obstacle. Yet it is quite simple, really. In a world in which people are bombarded daily by gazillions of images, status updates and changes of all kind, time has become a costly commodity. One of the few luxuries that cannot be bought with money (or expensive campaigns). “Genuine time investment” is essential to creating successful brands since they need to be planned over the long haul and continuously validated.

As in actual life, branding is a multi-stage process that should not be rushed. In fact, sometimes the actual duration of a phase is what makes it singular. Processes that stand for development, establish patterns and become time-honored habits over years and generations, thereby forming a tradition. Traditions which not only imply know-how, but also sustainability and long-term commitment. Tags that indicate added value, a head start, an edge. No wonder then that many brands want to display this feather in their cap. The qualification "since nineteen-hundred-as-early-as-possible" is as popular as pseudo-antique furniture in trendy living rooms. Tradition is not only a valuable asset, currently it is also very much in vogue.

Of course, tradition in itself is not the only criterion. Companies that ignore modern trends risk being perceived as fusty. A situation which constitutes an absolute paradox for brands: Welcome to the tightrope act of branding!

Here, not a few companies lose their balance. Some rely too heavily on their prestigious past and end up missing the digital revolution entirely (good morning, Kodak). Others chase after every single short-lived and oh-so-cute fad, completely oblivious to the fact that they have not given their brand a chance to take root and develop an identity (our candidate for the next drop: Lana del Rey). Hence, more than one brand has appeared prematurely on Facebook and Twitter before considering their approach properly; just so they are on Facebook and Twitter too. This haste can pose a threat to one of the most significant assets of a good brand: its authenticity.

So what to do when the CEO, the stakeholders, the quarterly reports and one's own career demand fast results. To this there is only one possible reply: Under all circumstances a brand must keep the promises it makes. Ever heard of BP? A brand with tradition that jumped onto the ecological bandwagon. Result: BP goes green. Sure, why not? But then reality caught up and the inauthentic brand imploded in no time. Which only goes to show: Whatever a brand promises, be it ecological, traditional or innovative values, it has to remain true to them. Any other practice will ultimately cause its downfall.

I'm sure you can see where this is leading too. Branding is just like real life. Be it cheese, alcohol, men or brands: All good things come to those who can - genuinely - wait.


This article appeared in PUNKTMagazin. The Swiss magazine combines economics, investment and lifestyle and is published every two months. Branders CEO René Allemann writes a column for the publication. You'll find more information on PUNKTMagazin here: www.punktmagazin.ch

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René Allemann

René Allemann

Born in Zurich, René Allemann founded the consulting firm Branders in 2005. With 20 employees, the branding agency creates, maintains and manages brands. The Brander journal is published by the Branders Group.

The Brander is a publication of the Branders Group