You Don’t Control Your Brand. The Audience Does.

Traditional branding is dead. The days of ‘choosing’ your brand and pushing your choice out to passive consumers are gone.  Today, you have to earn your brand.

Thanks to social networking and Web 2.0 tools, you simply can’t ‘control’ a brand by saturating a market with endlessly repeating messages and advertisements.  It’s too easy for your audience to call your bluff, share their views with an enormous number of people, and create the exact opposite impression you were intending.

So how does today’s branding work?  You actually have to provide value for your audience or your customers.  If you give them a stellar experience, they will tell others.  If you give them a bad experience, they will also tell others.   The word of mouth about your content or product IS your brand.

Let’s say you upload 100 music videos and 5 comedy videos to YouTube.  In traditional media thinking, that means that you’re mostly a music service.  However, if only 10 people watch your music videos, but 3 of your comedy videos go viral, to the audience, you’re a comedy company.

The point is, you don’t get to choose. The audience creates your brand with every click of a mouse, every content rating tool they use, every comment they make about your content, and every link they send to their friends.

So forget trying to ‘sell’ people with endless hype.  Focus your energy on building a relationship with them by giving them a terrific experience first.   The days of ‘promising’ a brand are over.  The days of having to deliver on the brand promise are here.

Posted Tuesday, November 11th, 2008 under Featured, Future Of Media.