When the manager of a company turns to a consulting firm, he does so on the assumption that he needs external help to resolve an internal problem. Obviously, no one doubts that he is an expert in his subject, whatever it may be; nor, of course, that he knows his company well enough. Not at all because he is a bad manager. It simply assumes that there are times in the life of a company when it is good to resort to an external vision. Because we must assume that one cannot know everything; that sometimes it is easier and cheaper to import a proven solution than to develop it internally; or because we understand that an outside and non-dependent opinion can provide, in addition to experience, freshness.


¿Qué se puede esperar de la ayuda externa? There are business solutions that can be imported and implemented in the company with minimal adjustment work, almost like a closed product. This is usually the case with computer systems. There are also management models that have been developed by the hired consultants and that have been implemented in different companies, even from different sectors; In which case, the success of the project usually lies in the consultants’ ability to interpret the characteristics of the company that hires them and their adaptation to each reality. There are also consulting projects in which the design of the model to be proposed to the client and, therefore, to be implemented in his company is based on a deep knowledge of the company and its specific problem. Let’s take as an example some cases of human resources consulting.

Diagnosis: symptoms and prescriptions

We can establish a relationship between consulting and medicine, if we have no problem doing so with doctor-patient roles. The need to seek the services of a physician varies widely in nature. From the apprehensive person who, without being sick, obsessively consults the doctor’s opinion; to the terminally ill person who resorts to medicine in the hope of a miracle. This includes the healthy person who, as a precaution, goes to the doctor regularly as a preventive measure. There would probably be more models. Not to mention the incidence of external factors: it is not the same to ask for a doctor’s appointment when you are the one who manifests the symptoms of a possible illness as it is to wait to be seen when there is an epidemic or a pandemic.

In all cases, what we expect from the physician is that he/she knows how to identify the symptoms and can correlate them so that a diagnosis can be made. But, above all, to know the remedy.

Thus analyzed, it is easy to deduce that, assuming a certain clinical eye, the important thing is the recipe. The medicine, which is capable of curing the disease of one or the other. But is the disease always the same? Dr. Marañón used to say that there are no diseases, only sick people.

Therefore, it is already more difficult for what is prescribed to one patient to cure another, even with the same symptoms. Isn’t it true that the same disease presents itself in different ways in different patients?

And why is consulting often limited to being a simple recipe? Why are there consultants, in such cases, who prescribe the solution that has been successful in another patient, just like that? Because they are obsessed with the solution, not the process. The solution is reached by a sometimes long, almost always intricate path; certainly, in any case, a demanding one.

That is why we are convinced that, at least in our field, brand consulting, the success of a project lies in our ability to structure the process in such a way that we follow a logical course of approach.

Understanding the situation

First, necessarily, we have to start from a deep understanding of the situation. That means knowledge of the customer and his industry, and then of his problem. Because only by putting it in context is it useful knowledge. To put it in a broader context, then: assuming that in other environments, more or less different, there are positive practices that can be extrapolated, or from which experiences can be drawn. Only in this way will we be able to define and define the problem in all its dimensions and scope. Only if we have well-defined what we have to solve will we be able to do it. Perhaps reaching the first conclusion that the problem turns out to be something different from the one originally posed; perhaps even another one. In this way, we will be able to approach the process of searching for a solution, or several alternative solutions, if necessary. Because experience shows that the solution comes from analysis. The more exhaustive the latter, the easier it is to find the former.

Brand essence and brand positioning

We do not understand the possibility of undertaking a brand repositioning project without first clearly defining its essence, based on its values, benefits, differentiators, and attributes. The same co-branding actions or new brand territories cannot be proposed without knowing and sharing the positioning. Nor establish the basis of a brand communication strategy without clearly defining the stakeholders with whom the brand relates and in what ways.

Cooperative and personalized work

But none of this is possible, in our opinion, without the process being carried out hand in hand between the consultant and the client. But none of this is possible, in our opinion, without the process being carried out hand in hand between the consultant and the client. We don’t believe in it, because we don’t like thaumaturgical solutions in the first place. But also because we are not capable of arriving at a final proposal without having validated all stages of the process with the client. This is the best way, in our experience, to ensure that what is achieved at the end of the project is consistent and useful.

Above all, useful. We are tired of seeing failed consultant-client relationship experiences because they have been developed without fulfilling some of the requirements of the process that we consider unavoidable. There is nothing more frustrating than having invested time and money in a project that ends up being unsuccessful, because the proposed final result does not fit, for one or more reasons, into the company’s structure.



Ignacio Muñoz

Consulting Partner at Branward®

Photos: Shutterstock


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