- November 14, 2013
How context, utility, and portability are driving the new school of branding
It is Fall and if you are like any of the millions of NFL fans like me, it means that most weeks, in addition to marketing, you have football on the brain. A bit of recent news crossed over both for me. In case you missed it, last month, a company called Fantex, announced that it was launching a platform which allows fans to to buy and sell stock linked to the value and performance of the brand of a professional athlete, and its two first athlete IPOs were to be NFL players. You will find no more loyal brand constituents than fans of a team and its players, but apparently based on this example, loyalty goes only so far as you can demonstrate value to them.
This got me thinking about the true value of branding – what are you delivering to your customers and what are your customers getting from you? Deep thought of the day, eh? While you mull that over, let me tell you one thing that is certain – the way you used to brand most likely is not working for you anymore. In case you have been living under a rock for the last 3-5 years, the days of the awareness-driven banner campaign are officially dead. My colleague Andy Briney delivered a great presentation at our most recent ROI summit on the impact of branding which detailed the following things that you are more likely to do than click on a banner these days – survive a plane crash, scale Mt. Everest, or get into MIT.
Wow – I certainly would not bet on those odds. Faced with those numbers staring you down, it is no wonder why many marketers are reluctant to invest in branding these days. But that is taking the old school view of branding value. The old school was based on hope – throw your message out there and hope someone sees it and takes action. The old school is passive. Impressions and clicks are passive.
The new branding involves actively engaging your users. Branding is no longer about the impression or the click. To carry the football analogy a bit further, it is not about standing on the sidelines, but taking the field. Amidst a “what have you done for me lately?” brand of B2B buyer, you need to give value in order to get value. Before you spend another dime on branding, here are 3 things you absolutely must commit to:
1. Context – I am sure everyone has heard the phrase “Content is King”, right? Well, when it comes to branding, I would argue that “Context is King.” Reach is irrelevant without context. Don’t just expect to pull them in with targeted messaging. Actively engage your customers only in the targeted environments where they are researching purchases.
2. Utility – Effective branding only goes so far as your utility to buyers that need something from you. Don’t just tell them about yourself, show them. Your brand needs to be tangible in a way that buyers will engage and interact with you. Give them information, give them content. The term “try and buy” absolutely applies to branding.
3. Portability – Branding used to be a one-to-many transaction. Make it one-to-one – each buyer you target needs to connect with you. If you can create a successful connection, your customers and prospects will take your brand with them and share it with their constituents and followers in both traditional and social environments. Instead of multiple eyeballs, you are now creating multiple individual connections which is very powerful.
We want to hear from you – what does new school branding mean to you?