Branding

Time to make a post worth writing about. All personal things set aside.

Branding is something very important in today’s consumer world. Where information is readily available at everyone’s fingertips twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, it’s hard to escape the clutches of brand identity. Brands have to have an identity in order to stand out amongst competition. My personal favorite is Coca-Cola. When it comes down to it, its just flavored sugar water. There are multiple brands creating a similar product. In blind taste tests, Pepsi always tends to beat it in flavor, texture and carbonation. Yet Coca-Cola is one of the most adored, most popular brands on the face of this planet. Why, how has such a simple product become so popular? It’s all of course about the branding. Coca-cola works hard to create a brand image, an identity for itself. Everything the company does has to stick alone the lines of the image it creates for itself. From package design, including their own special color of red, to P.R., sponsorships they might carry, marketing, and advertising and more, it all has to represent what Coke is about. Thats what branding is about. It helps convey a feeling, a lifestyle, an emotion, a reaction. What does Coke stand for? Its a way of life, happiness, friendliness, caring, sharing, cute CG polar bears during the holidays. Everything that comes to mind when you mention Coke is a part of it’s brand image. As a professor once told me, take a note card, think of a brand and everything that comes to mind, put it on that notecard. That notecard should be a bit about what the brand is.

Other times, brands use personification for their brand identity. Many cereal brands do this, Little Debbie, the Marlboro man. The characters help personify the brand identity and image. It’s easier putting a face to a product or service. That way you can build a personal relationship and connect with it, then you’ll want to purchase that item or service. Price no longer is a part of the selling point, its on a different level, an emotional level. With so many options these days for everything you buy, there has to be something to distinguish your product. Look at Apple for example. It certainly has built an image for itself. Its a cool, artsy, hip brand. When a new iPhone comes out, all the mac fanboys have to buy it, even if there’s nothing wrong with the one they bought a year ago. Just the fact that its a new product by an idealized brand they’re in love with and covet. I love my apple products personally, I have my iPhone and Macbook Pro, they might not be the newest products, one even a few years old, but its still running strong. The image may stand strong, but they have the technology backing it for the most part. Of course behind the brand image of all these products, there needs to be some good H.R. and P.R. behind the brand.

Now with social media, it really changes things. As brands learn the world of social media, they can create Facebook pages, twitter feeds, participate in foursquare and post blogs. This allows a real time interaction with customers and the general public. With search engines that sift through all the posts people make, brands are able to see what people are saying about them. This allows the brands to work around all this information and react to it in real time, respond to negativity as well as work on other things that may be running well that people are happy with. As 500 million people are joined on FB around the world, fan pages are created by these brands that help with their image. People can comment, interact, take part in applications that offer many different activities and contests that give the companies plenty of feedback. It now stands that more people are viewing these fan pages in social media then the actual brand websites themselves. People are already on these networks, it only makes sense to participate with your favorite brand on them. Social media is giving brands more leverage, knowledge and power to understand their consumers.

There are companies, agencies out there that specialize in helping companies learn the world of social media. Some of the blogs I follow are TheBrandBuilder, Seth Godin, Brian Solis, Allen Adamson and others. Thanks to twitter I can see links they recommend, to other similar blogs and news feeds. These are the veterans of online marketing and branding. Its the younger people building these social media applications. I was reading an article earlier saying about how these younger people strive to build bigger and better social applications, but they don’t have the management skills per se to run them. They need seasoned vets to come in and do it. Its an interesting piece. It does make plenty of sense. A bit of the old mixed in the new. Wisdom never destroyed anything. As time goes on, these platforms will change and evolve and we’ll see what comes next for the world of branding.

This stands a good intro piece for what will come. Over and out.

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