Before I begin…let me just say this analogy is imperfect…but we’re working on it.
The planet Pluto got “demoted” this week. It’s now official. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) stripped Pluto of the planetary status it has held since its discovery in 1930. It’s now a “dwarf planet” or a “trans-Neptunian object”.
But, a lot of people aren’t buying that. Depending on which recent poll numbers you believe, 60 to 80% of people are saying they’ll still treat Pluto as a planet.
See, it’s been the common view that Pluto is a planet for the last 76 years. In fact, the astronomers even took what the public might think into account in the decision since we all kind of have an interest in “our” solar system. Some of the astronomers were even trying to “save Pluto”. That’s why the 12 (plus) planet model was proposed last week.
Now obviously, this is a science/astronomy issue and this isn’t the Shotgun Astronomy Blog. What’s the link with marketing?
If you’re a long time reader of this blog, you’ll know that my brand philosophy states that branding is one of the most important marketing tools, but I am adamantly opposed to the idea of “re-branding” As evidenced [here] [here] [here] [here] and [here]
Scientific classification needs aside….in essence, the IAU attempted to “re-brand” the solar system last week. Nothing has changed out in the cosmos. We’re just supposed to describe it and relate to it in a different way.
In the same way that you might be rolling your eyes at this IAU Pluto decision, consumers roll their eyes when you throw out a new logo and say “things are different, now!”.
Brands don’t change overnight. Brands are created by the consumer. They are NOT created by the company. Brands are a bottom-up proposition….not top-down. Yes, you can guide the way the brand is developed and place the necessary items in the marketing conversation to lead the development. But, a brand is truly developed with time in the consumers’ experiences with your organization.
And the longer a brand impression is in the consumers’ minds…the longer it will take to change it. The “solar system brand” will have 9 planets for as long as the public wants it to have 9. New textbooks and planetary models will slowly change the public’s perception of the brand.
The next time your company sits around a table and “votes” to change the brand…ask yourself if Pluto is a planet.