The act of dowsing is a useful metaphor for the work of a brand strategist.
A quick aside, in case you aren’t familiar with this term: Dowsing is a practice related to the location of underground water sources, and, less frequently, metals, ores, gemstones, or radiation fields. Dowsing is generally done with a simple tool–an L- or Y-shaped tree branch, or a similarly shaped metal rod.
Skeptics of this practice abound, of course. I would be skeptical too, except that when I was a small child, my father successfully dowsed a new well when our old one began to deliver more sand than water. I still remember his amazement when he told us that he felt a strong and unmistakeable force, pulling the rod to the ground. He drilled at that point, and water has flowed from it ever since.
So it is when a brand strategist seeks the essential truth of a corporate brand. It is our task to wander across a wide territory of information, data, opinion, emotion, and identify the force that reflects the brand.
Clients can be skeptical of us, too. At this point in my career, I have written hundreds of proposals, and always when I reach the point of explaining how we come to the positioning, I lack the words, the “steps”, the “processes” that so easily describe the rest of our work. It is impossible to estimate in advance. The proper brand idea can bubble up in the first few days of our work, or it can only be wrestled to the ground after months of agony. There is no telling in advance.
But when it is right, there is no mistaking the power that draws us to the ultimate brand idea.