What did you get for Christmas? A sub-brand
Tuesday 9th Jan, 2018
By Fiona Czerniawska.
Martin stares at the pine needle swirling around in his coffee. Christmas already seems a long time ago, but even a few days can feel like a month when you’re a stellar marketing executive working for one of the world’s leading consulting firms.
“Concentrate,” he tells himself. “Focus.” It’s going to be a doddle. After all, he’s the man—well, callow youth, but he isn’t going to dwell on his mother’s comments last weekend—who gave the consulting world the MegaMash, the first serious attempt to build a global brand around data & analytics, and not—as some of his so-called friends assumed—a poor substitute for real potatoes. Consulting is a fairly dry industry, he feels, but, with his agency background, he’s been injecting a bit of pizzazz. It’s just a shame that the senior partner pulled the funding at such an early stage, but he’s still hopeful that the money spent location scouting in the south of France will eventually be recouped.
There’s no point mulling over past triumphs. Martin is confident that his best is yet to come. He was flattered—let’s be honest—when he was asked to come up with a brand for the firm’s new super-cool-supercomputer-with-added-artificial-intelligence-platform-for-unlimited-future-growth. There aren’t many marketing assignments in the firm that carry that kind of kudos. Nate in New York, Maria in Milan: Neither of his arch rivals had a look in. And he isn’t planning to disappoint.
“The thing is...” he says to his team—smaller now than it was when he started two months ago, but honed to deliver value— “… that we have to give this chunk of metal some personality. Something that says intelligence, the ability to solve complex puzzles, delving deeper…” He snaps his Mont Blanc pen with excitement, and picks up the phone.
“Hercule Poirot!” He knows Nate’s impressed because he’s gone very silent. Martin smiles into his handily positioned desktop mirror.
“You don’t think,” says Nate slowly, “that might be a bit close to IBM’s Watson? And that the Belgian angle undermines our global vision?”
Watson? IBM? Belgium? A sliver of doubt passes through Martin’s mind, but he moves swiftly on. “I really think competitor research is overrated, Nate. What I’m trying to do here is move us up to a whole new level.”
“Perhaps something more Shakespearean, then?” counters Nate. Martin is momentarily crushed: Why didn’t he think of that? Time to take back control.
“Great idea!” He puts down the phone and smiles at Jonathan (Amanda and Sally’s desks seem to have been cleared—he must look into that at some point, but for the moment he’s got bigger fish to fry). “We’ve got work to do!”
A week later, in New York…
Nate stares at Martin with disbelief. King Lear? Seriously?
“He’s a powerful figure,” Martin is saying.
Nate interrupts: “Did you not read to the end? Where he ends up blind, lost, and crazy?”
“Then there’s the royalty angle…”
“HE DIES!” Nate can’t believe he’s hearing this. “Andrew?” At least the senior partner may be able to get through. Andrew turns away from the Manhattan skyline, frowning.
“Nate has a point,” he says. “I was thinking Miss Marple.”
Subbrands are an important driver, even in consulting. Read more about our work on sub-brands in professional services here.