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“The Cobbler’s children have no shoes”

May 19, 2020 · John Dodds

Photo by William Warby on Unsplash

It is an old expression that early estimates date as far back as 1546. At its simplest, the inference is that the cobbler is too busy to attend to his children. Or more deeply, that he is working his hardest to put food on the table.

I cannot claim that hardship, but the expression reflects why this is my first blog in over a year. I have greatly enjoyed being consumed “on the brand equivalent of a cobbler’s “last” shaping companies that I respect and admire, and helping them to unearth their uniqueness and tell their story. Both projects have been successful, but it has meant that my words went elsewhere last year.

It is a wonderful problem to have, but it illustrates the issue that companies large and small face every day. How do they tell the story of their company, products, and their fundamental uniqueness, in a way that people will care about, and believe in, especially at this time?

There are countless how to’s and infographics on the subject, but in the same way that a catcher drops a pass after practicing for years, there is no foolproof way to get an organization into a rhythm without the dedication, good fortune, and more than a little luck along the way.

Malcolm Gladwell declares that you need 10,000 hours to become a true expert on a subject. He doesn’t mention what happens when you miss the train to give that all-important expert speech to an expectant audience.

John Lennon composed a song in 1980 containing the lyrics, “Life is what happens to you as you are busy making other plans.” That is our world these days: conflicting priorities and urgent trumps the important.

The challenge, above all, is to be honest and consistent in everything that you create, make and deliver. A brand, after all, is a promise of performance.

A blank space on a blog page signals that “nobody is minding the store.” Or that we are too busy to manage the detail. And that is not what potential customers expect.

So as 2020 and Covid 19 has lurched us into a new decade that promises more change and speed than ever before, the mantra for my blog will be, to quote the Duke of Wellington in 1824 “publish and be damned.”