Now is the Winter of Our Disconnect

The leaves have fallen from the trees, exposing the network of branches they once concealed - obscuring the bustling ecosystem beneath them. With winter coming, the tree is exposed on its own: a trunk, branches and twigs.

Now is the time to evaluate where to prune come the late winter. We can see where the branches go and what they support. It's now much easier to see the parts that don't really connect and, in some cases, are bad for the health of the tree.

We can keep those birds' nests safe. We can locate those wasp nests that have been giving us the heebies all summer long.

Of course, this is all metaphor.

Nature sets aside the time to replenish and renew. There is a cycle, that if left alone, incites growth and advancement.

Why don't more marketers look at their worlds this way and make the time to get under the canopy and see what's happening under there instead of focusing on counting leaves?

Leaves come and go but branches are permanent to the life of the tree.

The heartiest trees are connected by not only their branches but by what lives in and among them. Disconnects are stunting and often fatal.

Trees need to be nurtured. Dead wood should always be cut out as soon as it's discovered. Prune too soon (in the summer) and and you can spur growth that won't survive the winter or (in the fall) not allow the cuts to heal.

Just as with adjustments to brand and marketing programs, pruning requires thought, examination, consideration and planning. Now is the time to look for the branches that have gone out too far on their own, the ones that have completely disconnected.

When we look at a brand that we think is not working or a marketing program that isn't hitting the mark, it's important to really get under the canopy and see what's really going on. Brands can suffer from competitive parasites and insects, fungal infections, over-diversification, and vicious wasps. There are environmental factors as well, just as there are in business. Competition for available resources. Climate. Eco diversity. Density.

So, as we cruise into winter, perhaps this is a good time to head to the whiteboard and sketch your brand or marketing plan or business as though it were a tree and identify all the branches. Identify the trees around you. Identify what lives on your tree under all those leaves. Identify the connections that need to be retained, the ones that need to be remade and those that need to be severed. Then plan your pruning.

And don't wake the wasps.

Tree Trimming Gone Bad