Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
May 28, 200711:09 PM

If We Don't "Get" Your Brand, Then You Don't "Get" Your Brand Online

"We do not feel like you 'get' our brand."

If you work in the Marketing, Advertising, Communications or the Public Relations space, this is the single most devastating sentence you can hear from a potential client after a major pitch. It happens all of the time_ and it has happened to all of us.

It also means that you did not win the business. Or, as one of my business partners likes to say, "they (the potential client) did not make the right choice."

Because of the new media and digital marketing landscape, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that a good chunk of companies out there truly don't "get" their own brands online. And it's not just companies_ a lot of marketing agencies are equally guilty.

There are two quotes that pop to mind and that sparked this Blog posting:

1. "Your brand is not what you say it is_ it's what Google says it is." - Chris Anderson, Editor or Wired Magazine and Author of The Long Tail.

2. "Consumers are moving so quickly into emerging media that marketers can't keep up. We bet marketers calling for 'proof of use' really need to increase their own familiarity with the medium and its application for their customers." - Brian Haven - Forrester - March 2007.

I have witnessed everything from major corporations looking to shut down Facebook Groups set-up around their brands to fears and concerns around illicit language being used in association with their brands online.

I guess if you stick your head in the sand, it's hard to hear or see the cold, harsh reality that you're not listening to what your consumers (and, a lot of times, your employees) truly feel about what, exactly, your brand is.

Jackie Huba
from Church Of The Customer and Co-Author of Citizen Marketers says, "I see no reason for any company not to Blog - unless they're sleazy. Every company needs a feedback system, and the easiest way to do that is through a Blog. It's almost a truth serum."

I'm not saying that companies don't get their brands if they're not Blogging and receptive to comments. I am saying that people who are anti-tagging, listening to online social networks, following the conversations by, at minimum, setting up some Google News Alerts or punching themselves into Technorati every now and again, can't truly have a clue about what their brand really is and how it resonates with their consumers.

You may think YouTube is simply America's Funniest Home Videos (without the host and the editorial staff). You may, indeed, feel like tagging content makes no sense as you know what's best for your consumers and how to display content to their needs. You may also, ultimately, feel that your consumers simply want an environment with fancy pictures and corporate marketing talk.

_ you may also be sticking your head in the sand.

Traditional agencies may not be able to capture a company's brand essence in an ad pitch. But, if you are looking for an experienced Digital Marketing agency, don't make the fatal error of not listening to what's being said online by your consumers and the types of tools and channels they are using to communicate. Yes, everyone needs a destination website - it is as important as having a mailing address - but everyone also needs to understand that your brand is not the same as what your brand is in the online environment.

So, while certain agencies may not "get" your brand in a pitch_ you may not "get" your brand online_ as it lives.

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • One of the best explanations of brand I've heard is from Ze Frank:

    http://www.zefrank.com/theshow/archives/2006/08/082906.html

    Ultimately, brand is whatever your prospective and real customers say it is, no matter how you might wish it otherwise. You can do lots of things to influence their perception of your brand, but in the end, brand lives in their heads.

    Reply
  • Posted by Mitch Joel
    Mitch Joel

    Thanks for this Chris. It made me laugh.

    Grandma DOES have a Personal Brand.

    I agree that a, "brand is whatever your prospective and real customers say it is." That being said, a corporation with a great brand does do things to ensure that we - the mass public - has a similar perception (think - on a big scale - about brands like Starbucks, Apple, eBay, etc...).

    Reply
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