I want to propose that we look at your brand in a different way. Right now, there are accepted distinctions between branding, traditional marketing, social media, promotions, etc. I want to suggest that your brand is all of these and there should be no difference. Your brand is social. People talk, both good and bad, about your brand. If they don’t, then you don’t exist which is a different problem. Your brand should be consumer-centric, which is what all marketing should be anyway. Ultimately, your brand should be viewed as a platform for your customers as a way to accomplish things in their lives and connect with others who are like-minded.
A great brand should give customers the ability to self-express and connect them to each others with similar interests and life goals. This is at the core of so-called “social media”, but it really shouldn’t be viewed as just this vertical segment. Self-expression and connections are qualities a great brand delivers. TV spots and print can, and should, communicate the same qualities. Consumers don’t see distinctions between products, service, Facebook page, TV spots, point of sale, packaging, or web apps. All they see is, does this brand represent what I want to be associated with and does it fit in my lifestyle. All of these marketing tactics and even the product/service itself is seen as one thing – the brand. If the product fails, the brand failed me and, no matter what else they make, I won’t buy. If the customer service fails, the brand fails. If the TV spots doesn’t connect with me, the brand doesn’t connect. If I blog about your brand and you don’t respond, you’ve failed. You get the picture.
I would like to single out “social media” for a moment. A brand’s presence on social media is meaningless unless you combine it with real, tangible value. Moving your customer service to Twitter for quicker response, that’s great value. Inviting 200 business owners via Facebook event to learn more about tax saving strategies on your online forum, great use of Facebook. Just having a page and collecting fans or “friends”? Worthless.
Brands need to become seamless experiences of all the activities it engages in (value, content, distribution, networking, pricing, design, service, etc.) It about having a conversation with your customers through all media and even your actual product, collecting data, and continually optimizing your offering. Great brands are media agnostic and only care about one thing, being customer-centric.