Your brand is dead, long live your brand

BarbaraBooks, Branding

Can you measure branding through tangible improvements in operations and the bottomline? Are your branding investments aimed directly at changing customer behavior? Is brand equity a myth that exists in the minds of marketers?

These are some of the questions that Jonathan Salem Baskin raises in his new book, Branding Only Works on Cattle. He talked about his ideas for rocking the branding boat at a special presentation to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco last night.

It’s easy to see that branding strategies developed for the era of mass media are not going to perform as well in the era of social media. It’s much harder to get your head around what that change would actually look like.

At least 2 of Jonathan’s ideas struck a chord with me, as they fit very well with the transition to influencer marketing:

1. Shift the branding focus away from creating fictions (mascots, celebrity endorsements, etc.) Instead, enrich the actual customer experience with your company, products, and services. The customer experience is the brand.

2. Trade in the creative marketing math for measuring branding (recall, impressions, tonality, etc). Instead, adopt standard business math. Measure brands based on real world customer behavior. Worry less about whether your YouTube vids go viral, and more about whether your brand facilitates shorter sales cycles, higher word of mouth referrals. Look to the bottomline to find the benefit of branding investments.

Jonathan is not advocating the end of branding, merely the end of bad branding habits. For example, perception-changing branding isn’t going away, nor should it. Find more about that in Martin Bishop’s perspective on the evening.

Influencer marketing is all about addressing customer behavior, as it is happening. Jonathan is challenging us to adopt some similar ideas about branding.