Last night on our weekly PR 2.0 chat on Twitter (anyone can join this weekly chat Wednesdays at 8pm EST. Search on hashtag #pr20cat and join in!), we discussed branding and PR 2.0 and why PR folks (and marketers, that's a topic on integration for another day!) need to understand branding and how it affects their interactions with constituents (or publics).
If you've hung out in social media circles long enough, I am sure you've heard "you don't own your brand, your customers do." Nothing can be further from the truth and why we need to be very careful with how we phrase this as marketers, consultants, agencies, etc.
- FACT: You do own your brand and brand messaging
- FACT: You don't own relationships customers have with your brand
I kicked off by asking people's definitions of branding and a lot of people responded with a brand relationship definition, which is great but I think it also leads us to, as marketers implementing social media, to want to easily hand over the keys to the castle a little too easily.
For some people it's a chicken and egg situation. Do you love the logo or the company that produces the product/service first? Vanessa French asked me (paraphrased) "what if your mom gave you Pepsi as a kid, you'd have a relationship with Pepsi (based on emotion)." My response was "what if your mom served you Pepsi in a plastic cup and you never saw the bottle?"
People tend to identify with a brand (i.e. logo, message, etc.) first and then they relate to it. I think it explains why there are so many fake bags (Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, Hermes, etc.) not to mention other products on the market. It's not that people relate to the company that owns the brand it's that the brand (in this case a logo) gives them a perception of inclusion without the sting of the price tag. If they truly had a relationship with the brand they would never by fakes. Unfortunately, the perception of others is what spurs on the fakes market.
From "Driving Brand Value" by Tom Duncan & Sandra Moriarty (what I shared during the PR 2.0 chat):
Brand relationship is driven by:
(Sounds a lot like what we talk about with social media, huh?)
Five Levels of Bonding:
I think we also tend to mixed up brand perception with branding and brand relationship. My perception of a brand comes after my relationship with the brand. For example:
I bought a Jaguar and it was a piece of junk that could never be fixed. The Jaguar dealer and Jaguar wouldn't do anything about it. I bought based on the brand (awareness/identity), my relationship was affected by lack of trust, consistency, accessibility, etc. My perception is that Jaguars are bad cars. I am sharing my story (WOM) on my blog (social media).
So, if you are Jaguar's PR folks and I had consistent blog about this and chatted on forums, you might want to pay attention. I would hope.
The tenets of branding are still viable, but just like everything else with social media they are more visible today and brand relationships and perceptions are out in the open.
But we DO have control over our brand and messaging! You might want to reconsider using "trust" in your brand (logo) or messaging if the case is that the brand relationships and perceptions indicate that you are not an organization to be trusted.
By the way, Driving Brand Value was written in 1997, and yet offers lessons that we still have not learned. It's available on Amazon starting at $0.38 USD. I suggest you snap up a copy.
Also, grab Integrated Branding by LePla and Parker while you're at it...
What do you think?
[Image: David Armano]
Link to original post