Which came first, the chicken or the brand?

Why are we so susceptible to a quick fix? You’ll be familiar no doubt with wild and alluring promises along the lines of “we guarantee to double your business in 30 days”. The lure of the quick win can be tempting, even without a free set of steak knives.

But how realistic is that? I mean, recently a company called ‘Ship Your Enemies Glitter’ (a genius of an idea) went social media viral and was sold within days of starting up after it grew out of control, but chances are that’s not most businesses.

Even the biggest and most familiar names to us now, needed to evolve over time before they were a real success.


The truth is, it takes time to build a great brand.

Take Harland Sanders, who took 10 years to come up with his secret recipe for fried chicken, all the time serving people in his store in the front room of a petrol station day in and day out. It took another 17 years to come up with the seemingly simple idea of serving it in a bucket – one of the hallmarks of KFC for many years.

It takes time and careful observation to learn enough about people and what they want. It takes yet more time to work out how best to interpret those needs, and deliver back a solution to them in a way that is succinct, memorable, motivating and engaging. It’s practically impossible to form a solid marketing strategy off the back of a single customer interaction (New Coke anyone?), so remember: the plural of anecdote is data.


 People also need time to be persuaded, even by a good idea.

Seek took 4 years to make a profit and almost 15 years to dominate the recruitment market – first having to convince advertisers that candidates would look for job vacancies online, and then getting a groundswell of job seekers to actually become aware of the opportunities that were there.


So get ready to lean into those straps.

Know who your market is, and don’t take your eyes off them for a second. The point of being in business is to respond to your customers needs. Find out as much as you can about what bothers them and drives them to make decisions, and position what you do from their point of view, not yours.

You must evolve – keep looking for new ways to streamline, develop your offering and improve your service.

Think long term when it comes to marketing ROI. The long term effects of advertising have been estimated to be up to 6 times greater than over the short period that your campaign runs, because people who might not yet be ready to buy can still be prompted into purchase if they are reminded about your brand again at a more critical time. What this means is that properly planned short campaigns can work to develop customers over the long term, which is why we recommend identifying a strong brand-related marketing message and promoting it little and often throughout the year.

Sure, you’ll get bored of it, but long before your customers will. And that’s the secret recipe of brand building.


Nerissa Atkinson is co-director of The Revery, a marketing consultancy for growing businesses wanting to remain lean. Curious about everything, her personal ethos is to have nothing in her house that is not useful or beautiful. With two small children life is weighted towards the first, but she spends plenty of time on Pinterest and other social media platforms planning for the future.

Image via Flickr CC/Michael