universal brands (that kill?)

Last week I had a surprising conversation with someone in my neighborhood who hadn’t realized that the library had become so much more than books. “Sometimes we go to the library with [insert 2yr old] for story time but there’s really no other reason for us to go there.” In spite of my own knowledge that we have work to do on “the library brand,” I still found myself wondering – how could he not know? On reflection, I realized that his perceptions match many of the community members we have yet to reach, and to serve. I seriously have no business even being surprised by this conversation!OCLC’s recent Perceptions report notes that the library brand is universal. To library users around the world it means one thing: books. “There is no runner up.” Perceptions is generous and optimistic about our brand. It’s everything that marketers dream of: ubiquitous, prevalent, understood. But how useful is all that if these perceptions aren’t accurate, and we’re not changing them. That is, what if the “purity” of our brand is … killing us?

Do staff in your library fret over whether or not “books” is our only connection to the folks we aim to serve. What other meaningful messages are there?