Tag small business

BRANDING 101: What Building a Brand Means Today

Brand“Once upon a time…,” is a perfect way to start a fairy tale. Insert one princess, a kingdom and a bad, evil thing trying to turn it all into rubble and you’re off to the races. Here, let’s try to write our own fairy tale…

Once upon a time, brands were built out of brick and stone…

It’s quaint, I’ll give it that. The only problem is that it has no bearing on the reality of today. If you don’t like it, go ahead and complain on the Internet. Once you’re done blowing off steam, go see how much good that does you? Did you effect change? Did anybody even listen? How many “Likes” did you get?

And if you don’t feel like enough people listened, maybe, just maybe, it’s because your “brand” isn’t big enough.

Sure, I could make some cornball “size doesn’t matter” joke — if that’s what you’d like, we can pause for a second for a few harmless yuks — but just take a moment to think about this: in today’s world, EVERYBODY is a brand!

Yeah, it’s nuts. It’s Andy Warhol on acid, because now everyone who gets (and desires) their 15 minutes now has the ability to turn that tiny bit of attention into a “brand.”

Branding was something you used to have to earn — with a damp sweat rag mopping your brow with one hand as you wielded a trowel with the other. It’s different today and I’ll tell you why.

In the past, branding was the act of creating trust. Today, branding is all about creating a sensation. 

Now there’s nothing wrong with trust. In fact, trust is a foundation that weathers the ages — a foundation that will remain in place when the occasional hurricane passes through. Trust is what will bring you repeat business and loyal customers. We’re talking the trust that your brand will deliver the goods.

The only problem is that nowadays, trust isn’t always enough to bring them across your threshold the first time. In a world that offers more choices by the second, to get ‘em though the door the first time, the second time and everytime after that, you need a better cheese.

Go ahead and blame the Internet, but we live in a short-attention span world. Through our desktop and mobile browsers we voraciously devour information like Blue Whales inhaling great draughts of krill. If that wasn’t enough, we are also bombarded left and right by advertisements and messages. We, as humans, don’t shrink away from it. No, when given the opportunity, we consume even more. We can’t get enough and we can’t get it fast enough.

And because those consumers in the expanding customer base you desire drink from the firehose of information known as the Internet, your claims of quality will only get you so far. Because hyperbole on the net is like a shovel in a horse stable, there will be those in the demographics you covet who won’t know the difference between your claims of being the best from those being made by Joe who started yesterday in his basement, regardless of your pedigree. There’s only so many times you can rest on your laurels before the message gets lost in the cloud.

All those billions upon billions of bits and bytes flying around the world every second of everyday make up the shifting sand of the Internet. What you did yesterday may have been great, but it’s already been swallowed up and forgotten. Your fairy tale “happily ever after” may only last till the next page refresh.

But fret not, friends. It’s not all bad news. In today’s blink-and-you-missed-it world, however, there is one saving grace for the beleaguered marketer: conversation.

Building a brand today is all about inspiring people to talk about you. 

And in that respect, the Internet has given Joe in his basement the same opportunities to brand-build as any built-in-stone company. His reach may lack because he hasn’t been around as long, but his ability to get people talking about his brand exists. All Joe has to do down there in the basement is whip up something worth talking about… a sensation.

You can stand on your soapbox and shout all you want, but today if other people aren’t talking about your, your brand, and all that brick and stone you used to create it, is as good as invisible. Small brands come and go because while they may inspire people to come through the door that first time, they lack the resources, credibility and creativity to get enough repeat business to stay alive.

Branding today is not about creating one good idea or one good slogan. It’s about building a platform from which great ideas come from time and again. To make dollar one, you need faith more than you need trust. Faith that you are worth pulling out a wallet or checkbook that first time. Faith that you are worth talking about in an online status report that my friends will “Like.”

Because the Internet has given us all access to realize our own fairy tales, Joe in his basement can have a “once upon a time” by getting enough people to talk about him. However, the way you build a brand today is by maintaining or re-establishing your place in the conversation. True, not all succeed, and it’s not for for a lack of huffing a puffing or the machinations of a wicked witch in the woods. If you’re looking for a happy ending to your brand-building efforts, you need to constantly create the kind of sensations capable of inspiring others to tell your tale to others.

What does Branding mean to you and your business right now? Comment here or on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Thanks so much for reading!

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