I had lunch recently with an old friend and competitor who’s been around the identity and brand consulting field for many years. He asked me what I saw as the future of the “industry.” I remarked that if we could get through this past year intact, the future looked pretty darn good. That said, I also told him that I think the future looks potentially bleak.
In my view, our profession - it ain’t an industry - hasn’t really evolved in decades. For all the increasingly quantitative acumen we apply to problem-solving, we’re still all about naming, logos, design systems and communications (read: messaging).
To be sure, these are essential outcomes. But there is more we can do. Many firms, including my two fine alma maters (Anspach Grossman Portugal and Siegel & Gale), for years have played around the edges of “employee alignment” and “operationalizing” the brand. But seemingly logical and profitable service lines such as these just have not shown staying power. We have failed to institutionalize and incorporate them into our portfolio of offerings.
By contrast, other consulting professions evolve, regularly — strategy consulting, accounting, IT, change management.
As someone who’s spent his career in this field of identity and brand, and loves it, I am sad to see so little innovation in core practices and in the thinking and theory behind them. Yet I can’t think of a richer vein of gold to mine than the notion of a company’s “identity” and the powerful business implications it holds.
Why don’t we innovate? Are we in a profession where there is nowhere to go? Are we intellectually disinterested? Is it that we have clients who just don’t care - or don’t know enough to care? Or do we lack passionate (and effective) leaders?
So: have we failed? Or are we just getting started?
Show of hands (or comments): How many of you feel there is room to run in this field? How many feel things are just fine as they are?