Before social media, branding was the buzzword of the marketing and advertising industry. Like social media today – many in the “biz” were familiar with the term branding – but really didn’t “get” what it was really all about. As a result a lot of “noise” has been made about branding which focuses upon the choice of colors, logo or other visual elements used in marketing. But branding is so much more than just the visual packaging of your business or even your business name. While the name and the visual elements are a way to quickly communicate the “core” or DNA of your business to consumers who don’t know you yet – your true BRAND is built through interaction with your customers.
I’ve always said that branding is not something you do to your business – but rather it’s something your customers do to your business. Just as a calf does not control the hot metal which sears a symbol into it’s flesh – your company’s brand is controlled consumers. This is why focusing upon the consumer and striving to meet their expectations is the foundation of branding. Social media gives businesses a way to make that connection – to collect that information – and to actually see your business from the consumer’s point of view.
Peter Drucker was a self-described “social ecologist” whose insight helped to build some of the most successful companies in the world including General Electric, Coca-Cola, Citicorp, IBM, and Intel. Drucker attempted to unveil some of the “mystique” surrounding branding,
“Suppliers and especially manufacturers have market power because they have information about a product or a service that the customer does not and cannot have, and does not need if he can trust the brand. This explains the profitability of brands.”
According to Drucker – the essence of branding is building trust and long term business profitability ultimately depends upon building trust with consumers. Branding is all about building trust with consumers. When consumers can trust you – they’re more likely to buy from you. Social media provide the communication tools necessary to engage consumers and build that trust.
The process of building trust with consumers used to be as mysterious and abstract as quantum mechanics. Companies had no way of knowing whether they had made a “connection” with consumers other than to watch for the cash register to tally up another sale. Social media is providing revolutionary insight into this once obscure concept but it’s increasing the importance of actively striving to build trust with consumers as well.