Posted 31st May 2013 by Robert Bean
I was invited recently to deliver a speech to the Nuclear Directorate.
To you and me these are the nuclear inspectors.
They stop the power stations from blowing up, and they stop anyone else from blowing them up.
The title of my speech was ‘Branding; superficial or fundamental?’
‘This’ll be lively,’ I thought.
After all, 350 nuclear inspectors in a room would have the atmosphere humming with Chemistry, Physics and Engineering brilliance. What on earth would they make of someone coming to talk to them about branding?
“Before we start,” I opened, “I’d like a show of hands please. I’m going to offer you three options. Those who believe it’s superficial, those who believe it’s fundamental, and the ‘don’t knows’.”
I wanted to understand the gradient of slope I needed to crawl up over the next half hour or so.
“And don’t hold back. I can take it,” I continued, fearing the worst.
“So, let’s start with the ‘superficials’. Hands up.”
A dozen or so hands went up, strangely, conspiratorially, all gathered together somewhere in the middle of the room.
I was surprised at how few there were. ‘Oh well,’ I thought, ‘the rest of them’ll be in the ‘don’t knows’ I suspect.’
“So how about the ‘fundamentals’,” I carried on. “Let’s see them.”
A forest of arms sprung up.
I was stunned.
I didn’t even bother to count the ‘don’t knows…’
But it provided a different problem.
If they didn’t need much persuading – and I’d definitely come prepared to paddle hard – then they’d need entertaining.
I wasn’t equipped, psychologically or in terms of content, to switch from one mode to the other.
I launched into it manfully, and struggled on, receiving at the end what felt and sounded like a suitably positive response.
But it taught me that this topic is bigger than I’d imagined.
When the vast majority of 350 nuclear scientists tell you they see branding as ‘fundamental’, it proves to me, beyond doubt, that having a strong brand is more than a ‘nice to have.’
It’s here to stay, and any organisation that’s not working to improve theirs is likely to implode.
A reaction the nuclear inspectors seem determined to not let happen.