Don't kid yourself – advertising still matters. Thanks to the digital revolution, traditional advertising is sliding into oblivion with print, radio and outdoor becoming smaller and smaller like the opening narrative in Star Wars. But the one component of traditional advertising that's just as important now as ever – is brand. So before we abandon traditional logic altogether, let's not forget what got us here in the first place.
I'm not talking about just a logo, tagline, color palette or typography. I'm talking about the deeper stuff. Real branding. Core ideals that drive corporate cultures and that are developed at the top of an organization and flow freely downstream into every tributary of the company. The best an advertising agency can do to develop a brand is decipher what is most true about an organization, and then let that thing be the tip of the communications spear. For everything.
Consider that until the arrival of Social media, advertising in any form was, at best, a one-way appeal. And don't try to tell me that telemarketing or direct response was somehow 2-way advertising either, mister. I know first hand how to write scripts that feature variable data as actual people. By virtue of its nature, one-way communication is manipulative. Do something. Buy something. Act now.
Only, social media is where 'Act now' goes to die.
So how do you exist in this space? Thankfully, just as with traditional advertising, the best strategy is to lead with brand. Brands that are true to their values and are willing to share them with prospects, customers or even strangers will, no doubt, transition easily into social media. Those that rely on traditional manipulation tactics to drive sales – not so much.
The best brands get out of their own way.
Jim is a father, husband, copywriter and founder of smashcommunications, llc. You can find him on Twitter @smashadv.
5 CommentsLEAVE A COMMENT
Feb 3, 2010
I really like your perspective on this issue of branding. I was once challenged to ask a bank teller what the mission of the bank was – she had no clue what I was even talking about. What gets written at the top rarely seems to penetrate to the floor of the company, much less out to the public.
You’re right in that SoMe is an easy transition for companies that still really care about people – it’s a natural and even highly advantageous step to take.
Feb 3, 2010
Thanks Brandon. It really is the most important thing. You can hire great people to work in this space on your behalf, but unless core values are in place – there’s no real value in the dialogue. No matter how clever they get.
Feb 4, 2010
Like fish that can’t notice water, it’s hard for consumers to notice brands. But they are everywhere.
America is a brand. The Tea Party. Fox News. The Yankees. Your religion. Your family. Chris Brogan and David Armano. Hell, the very concept of “social media,” really bullshit — it’s just another type of media, people — is a “brand” with somehow special meaning.
Brands are artificial constructs we use to understand a complex world. Our environment is too nuanced for us to spend an hour judging the logical merits, pros and cons in our minds, so we resort to archetypes to quickly judge, file away, and recall our opinions. Saber-toothed tiger, bad, ooga, run. Hot member of opposite sex in leopard skin, good, ooga, mate. So we rebel at “death panels” supposedly lurking in complex health bills, too long to read or understand, because someone has branded them for us.
Branding is a mental shortcut we need to survive because there is too much information to process. Branding exists because we need simple compartments to file our judgments in.
Branding will always be with us because the world is too complex to manage without it. Technology won’t change it. And for those in social media who believe their fad is the new thing that makes branding obsolete, why, they’re just promoting their own brand.
Feb 5, 2010
I laugh when people say, “I’m not a brand.” Your character is your brand. Or your sex appeal. Or your hair. Brands are exactly what make each of us individual. And how we interact with other brands, help shape ours.
Brands exist whether we like them or not. A commercial brand that doesn’t acknowledge itself as a brand still emits an essence. They have to communicate in some capacity to someone or some business. What they say and how they say it is a direct reflection of their brand’s promise of value. Why open your mouth if you’re not going to say anything of value to anyone?
Anyway, those brands that get out of the way – they not only build loyalty on a quality experience, their advertising only has to tell the truth. How cool is that?
Feb 5, 2010
Wow. “Bad ooga run.” “Good ooga mate.” *That’s* the best depiction of how the right branding can lead to action that I’ve ever heard. Thanks, Ben.
And worry not, Jim, your post is a close second.
A great brand knows exactly what their values are. And believe me, I used to hate the word “value.” But then I realized this: if you have core values, things you believe in, unwaveringly. And you share those things of value, guess what happens? You become valuable. And in an economic society, when you are valuable, you can charge money. It’s the way it works.
I think I’m pretty good at being my own brand. But if I ever need to make a decision on how I should act or what I should say, I simply ask myself “What do you want the world to remember?”
“Social media is where ‘act now’ goes to die.” Love that Jim! Ooga Ooga!
My novel – Minor King
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