What do Gulliver, Lilliputians and your Brand have in common?

Posted on September 18, 2014 Under Brand


Lemuel Gulliver is a businessman, who’s on a little sailing trip, but there’s a big storm and he’s blown off course. He wakes up after his shipwreck to find himself in Lilliput where tiny captors who are fiercely protective of their kingdom have tied him to the ground with countless threads. Overall, they are hospitable, but they are not afraid to shoot their tiny arrows at Gulliver whose size frightens them.*

The metaphor begins to unravel here, but the story thus far is one that B2B and B2C brands find increasingly familiar: They’re sailing along and suddenly find themselves off course. They forget their Brand Promise and the Role they play in the lives of their loyal customers. They lose their charming personality that everyone once found so engaging. Before they know it, they add some products that don’t make sense, they lose respect by selling through a discount channel, they cut corners in the wrong place and sales decline. Pretty soon, customers, consumers, influencers and their own people, who are normally hospitable, are tying them down with tiny threads while shooting digital and social arrows at them through Twitter, Facebook, and customer and employee online reviews. Ouch.

If only Brands could stay on course. But for most Brands, growth and the passage of time come with erosion of tribal knowledge and loss of the passion that spawned success. It’s virtually inevitable that Brands will be blown off course and the need for a Brand refresh or refocus will arise.

A Brand refresh can start with research to establish a baseline of perceptions about the Brand, internally and externally. From there, a variety of processes can help a Brand find its way again. Most strong Brands identify their Purpose, Position, Promise, Role and Pillars. Armed with these authentic, memorable and relevant concepts, most Brands can do what Brands do best: increase value. Value in the hearts and minds of its customers. Value at the bottom line.

With dedication from the C-suite and the right Brand leadership, it’s not that hard. Look at it this way. Gulliver really didn’t have any trouble breaking those tiny threads and he eventually became the darling of all Lilliput as a guest of the King’s court, metaphorically winning Brand value and love. Now that’s a Brand Story worth telling.


* With gratitude to Sparknotes.com for their summary of Jonathan Swift’s classic story.

See this post on Robin’s LinkedIn!