Branding… and 4 Other Things That Died In 2010

Someone once said:

“Branding isn’t what you tell people you are anymore, it’s what others tell each other you are.”

If that’s the case, and I believe it is, why are we still spending precious marketing dollars attempting to build a brand informing the market of who we think we are to them? A 10-million-dollar branding campaign is lost immediately after a bad customer experience goes everywhere on social media. Don’t believe me? Ask the airlines. Remember the videos that went all over the world when a family was asked to give up a seat?

Small business suffers the same fate upon a negative social media post that gets shared a couple thousand times. Where are the people posting, “But wait, their commercial says customers come first?” Exactly. You’ll never see that post. Marketers are smart people—usually. We know how to get messaging out and we know how to make clients feel good about what we are doing. But if your brand is what others say about you, why use marketing dollars telling people who you are instead of using them to convert more people into customers so they tell people who you are?

I have seen posts that read, “That must have been a fluke because when I bought from that company, they were awesome.” You will see happy customers defend a company, but you won’t see TV watchers reciting value propositions from advertising. It will never happen. Our personal experiences matter more than what we see in an ad. It connects value proposition to emotion and that is how you get consumers telling others how great your company is to do business with.

That said, here are 4 things that died as result of this understanding right around 2010 (when we all went social crazy).

  1. Branding as a Strategy – Branding turned from being a marketing strategy into a result of increased conversions and delivering solid customer experience. In other words, sell more people your awesome products and let them tell the world how great you are. In 2018, that is how you build a palatable brand.
  2. The Vanity Play – This is one of my favorites. Ad agencies are notorious for using the vanity of a business owner when their campaigns fail to produce a result. “You know what Mr/Mrs business owner, YOU should be in the TV commercial.” And you know you’ve seen it! Ever watch a TV commercial and think, “Wow! That person has no business being in front of a camera!”? That’s almost always the result of a failing ad agency trying to save their account.
  3. The Interview Pitch – Like the vanity play, this uses flattery to save or get a client by convincing the owner/CEO of a business they belong in front of the camera. After all, the logic goes, who knows your business better than you? As a business owner myself, with a face for radio, I can tell you that just about everyone in my company would better serve our brand than I could being in front of the camera.
  4. The Monolithic Market Position – The idea that a single market position will appeal to the masses is ludicrous. Most companies have a need to sell all types of people and what appeals to a 60-year-old retired doctor will not usually appeal to a 25-year-old millennial. The age of digital has turned many ad agencies into dinosaurs overnight for this exact reason. Lazy doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s time to get to know the clients’ multiple customer segments, do the research to understand how to engage them and then analyze what did and did not work.

Marketers and Ad Agencies alike all talk a good game. We all talk about these things and profess to understand them and how these things apply to your business. The truth is, very few have a clue how to understand and actually use any of this information. Instead, they go right back to 2010 because that is what they know—that was the last time they really knew what they were talking about. That is precisely what separates AI from the pack.

We not only understand these core truths, but we put that understanding to use every day for our clients. Make no mistake about the fact there is a reason marketing spend in the US has gone to digital overwhelmingly. Whether you engage our firm or not, your brand will be better served worrying about converting more new customers than sitting in a conference room talking about how to brand yourself—you can’t!