Tag Archives: branding

Branding is dead, long live equity.

Today I read this, from Banksy:

I am not linking to it as I saw it on Facebook but am not sure of the source.

The point Banksy makes is a good one, and one that advertisers and brand managers need to think long and hard about… A few weeks ago I was speaking at social media week and pulled out an old quote from Radian6: “Your brand is just the sum of its conversations”. The 2 things are very closely linked, think about it… Brands have always been the sum of conversations, we have always made purchase decisions based on word of mouth, peer reviews and peer purchases, advertising has also helped to drive those decisions, drive our awareness and drive word of mouth, good advertising gets people talking.

But now we live in a world where people can edit, people can satire, people can distort, create and co-create in ways that even 10 years ago seem crazy and cost so little. What does that mean for our brands? It means that we all need to embrace the creativity of our customers and advocates, they create our brand, not brand managers, or agencies…

So we don’t build brands anymore, we can’t throw a tonne of money at creating a logo, creating an identity, a DNA and slick expressions of that in ATL that ensure success, particularly not in the ever more cynical western world. So what should we do? We should build equity! 

What do I mean?

I mean that we take the time and energy into diving into the communities that we want to appeal to and sell product to, we create content with them (not for them, with them) we build relationships with the community leaders and influencers, over time we learn about them and turn them into brand supporters and advocates, we let them define the brand with us, the products and everything!

This is not crowdsourcing it’s defining your brand and your identity with your communities.

I am not saying don’t buy ATL and don’t think about your brand, I am just saying do it differently.

Personal brands and the observer effect

So this is something people talk about a lot online, particularly those guys who work in SM, Chris Brogan wrote on the subject back in 2007 and again in 2008 so I guess I am a little behind the curve then… Well no, I am not going to talk about how to build a personal brand as, to be honest, I am still figuring that out for myself and I am certainly no expert, however this is a trend I have noticed emerging: a lot of people are starting to see the value of their personal brands and this is beginning to affect the way they use social media and as such it will affect the way that brands monitor and engage with people online…

Firstly: we have all heard the horror stories, Virgin Atlantic sacking staff for comments made on Facebook but Tesco and DSGi have had similar issues, and this story went viral brilliantly back in 2008, so, today most people are not so stupid, most change their Facebook profile to private and carefully edit their friend lists and are well aware of what a potential employer (or current employer) may see online.

However 2010 is ushering in a whole new era of personal brand engagement across the social web: some people I know have already christened this year as “the year of engagement” (although many also christened 2009 in the same way!) So as consumers become increasingly aware that brands and corporations are monitoring social media and as they increasingly come into contact with brands in this space then we have to ask a serious question: with increasing awareness of how our personal brand can be affected by what we say online and an increasing awareness of brand presences in the digital space is the very act of brands monitoring social media going to effect the conversation?

Let us think back for a moment to that well-known scientific principle: the observer effect – the simple principle being that whether looking at sub atomic structures or human behaviour the very act of watching (or in the case of social media, listening) will affect the very thing you are watching (or conversation you are listening to)…

To give a real life example: I received some very poor service in a retail store recently, I wanted to flame that brand online to punish them and warn others, however I knew they were monitoring SM and I also knew that a large part of my role is business developement focused and that I would like to work with that brand, so I bit my proverbial tongue We could all imagine how some negative comments online picked up by a social media monitoring tool could seriously torpedo someones prospects in a sales pitch, or job interview! The impact of the observer effect will change dependant on the situation but the point is this, we change what we say when we know we are being watched, so this is going to present an interesting challenge for brands going forward, how do we overcome this effect?