The terms, “creating a brand” and “creating a buzz” are often used interchangeably, but that’s not correct and could lead to false expectations. Technology (the web) has contributed to this confusion. Occasionally, clients ask us to help them “create a buzz” so they can build their brand while others ask us to “help them build their brand by creating a buzz.” Both statements are incorrect and will set you up for under performing results and disappointment. The biggest difference is are you trying to build something that will last or are you trying to create a spectacle? Here’s the difference:
Creating a brand – This involves “Consistency over time”. Brands are not built by spikes in PR with buzz in any medium, even social media. Once the hype and buzz is over, on to the next “YouTube” darling. Brands are built with a consistent message that is communicated through multiple ways, consistently, over time. Great brands are not an “overnight” sensation. That is a fad (think Silly Bands). Sure, that’s ok if all you want to do is sell a lot of stuff then disappear, but that’s not brand building. Brands goes deeper than just buzz or hype. It’s what you contribute to the human condition and the real reason why you exist.
Creating a buzz – Used properly, this tactic either helps jump start a new initiative or company and it helps restart an underperforming brand (think of it as a shock to the heart when a patient goes flatline.) Creating a buzz can be on purpose or happen by “accident”. It’s great when buzz happens organically. This is how revolutions are created, both politically, socially and commercially. Smart companies help this along by laying the ground work of building a great brand and giving people/customers something to believe in, rally around and be proud to be associated with.
The problem with believing that creating a buzz is the same as creating a brand is the shelf life. I’m all for creating a buzz, but not as my staple foundation to build a lasting company. Buzz just doesn’t last that long and no company has that many interesting things or news to say all in a row to keep up the buzz. What it can do is help create a quick shot of interest in my brand. There is a reason why it’s called “Buzz”, it’s the same as sugar. You get a quick high, then crash. It’s not sustainable. Brands are your “meat and potatoes”. It’s the foundation to build a healthy, long lasting company. Buzz, like dessert, is great for a change up and variety.
Buzz is extremely efficient at sales promotion, direct marketing and publicity, but these alone don’t build brands. If you’re always on sale, there’s no real value and you’re a commodity. And, no company has so many things going on that publicity can be their main strategic push. If you try, you run into the danger of “crying wolf”. Eventually, customers will ignore you because so many of your PR news and “buzz” will be boring or non-news. When you truly do have great information, that too, will be ignored.
When you are putting together your marketing strategy, don’t confuse the two and you’ll be able to leverage both, brand and buzz, to their fullest effectiveness. Keep in mind, brands, like people, don’t survive on “sugar” alone.