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Idea: Branding Must Flow If Your Brand Is to Grow
Google the word “branding” and you’ll find lots of explanations focusing on the front-end development of a product: the creation of a name, logo, slogan and a set of “values” that differentiates a product from its competitors.
With such descriptions, no wonder there is a growing chorus of hand-wringing dirges over the coming “death of brands.” Spurred by the release of the book Absolute Value by Stanford professor Itamar Simonson and author Emanuel Rosen, the death of brands argument goes something like this: Consumers’ brands have lost any relevance because buyers now can base purchasing decisions on reviews from product owners, easily accessed expert opinions, price comparison apps and other emerging technologies.
While Simonson and Rosen are correct in recognizing the changing dynamics of the marketplace, the end of the story doesn’t have to be the abyss for brands. Renewed relevance must start with a new understanding by marketers of what branding is in a post-traditional-advertising, ubiquitous-media era.
A brand can no longer be thought of as a chiseled-in-granite symbol and a set of mantras declaring its virtues. As customers find themselves awash in a never-ending flow of information and constant change, branding can’t be viewed as something that happens at a fixed point in time.
Branding is something that flows. Brands are something you must grow.
Think of your brand as a part of a narrative that changes at each turn of your customer’s journey. Branding is the framework of that journey’s narrative, providing guidance to both the marketer and customer as the needs of a customer evolves.
When potential buyers are researching a product, branding succeeds or fails based on the quality and ubiquity of resources the company can provide to help them make informed decisions. At that point, branding is less about visual symbols and more about engaging transparently in the conversation that will, ultimately, determine the purchasing decision.
After the purchase is made, brands grow by helping a product owner accomplish the outcome they desired when buying the product.
Brands will live on indefinitely when marketers stop believing branding is about logos and slogans and start realizing that branding is what a marketer does to build a relationship that grows across the flow of time.
(Photo: Doug Wheller via Flickr)
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