January 31, 2011

Can Marketing Create a Brand?

Perception meets reality

The topic of branding has often created heated debate. Some claim they are branding experts who can create desire in the hearts and minds of customers and potential customers. I'm of the belief you cannot create a brand.

Just like viral, it is something that happens when a customer interacts with a product or service. It's about their experience not the outbound message.

This is not to say that a compelling offer won't lure some people to try a product, it happens every day. The table may have been set but the customer remains the one who has decided to partake. If they enjoy it and share the experience with someone then branding begins.

Coke is not a brand; it is syrup and bubbly water. Harley-Davidson is not a brand; it’s a company that makes motorcycles. Porsche is not a brand; it is a handsomely priced line of super cars. And they all conjure up images in our minds which is where brands grow.

She told three friends

You are certainly familiar with the telephone game where you tell someone something, then they tell someone and by the time it gets three or four people deep, the content has morphed into something different.

This happens with our online persona. Like branding, our reputation cannot be created because it's what happens when we aren't in the room. We have no idea what most people think or say about us. But we can conduct ourselves in a way to hopefully garner kind feedback.

In marketing, there is a term called aspirational. There are four categories of items that people aspire to win – cars, cash, trips and things they don’t have access to within their own means.

Bound for Arlington

An example would be a pair of tickets on the 50 yard line to see the Packers and the Steelers on Sunday. The Packers and Steelers aren’t brands; they are football teams. I can hear fans of both screaming at me for writing that. And that would be branding. Ask anyone in Green Bay if they cheered for the Vikings this year.

The social web presents an interesting opportunity for many to position themselves in a certain light. If you work hard and build up a Klout score and get a lot of followers on Twitter, some may perceive you as a savvy digital expert whether you are or not.

How do you think you can change the perception of others?

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image credits: coke | inform | mogoel
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