Don’t get all Brand-ish on me: My Reputation Rant
A brand is the identity of a product, service or company. Anyone can make one, but no matter how much time, money and effort is put into brand creation it is worthless or even harmful without a sterling reputation. This is the sea change in marketing that has taken place with the widespread adoption of social media as a means of communicating.
Marketers currently exist in two schools of thought. The ‘old school’ is still fixated on the Mad Men/Ad Agency fantasy that creative combined with big money can ram a brand ‘experience’ down our collective throats. The ‘new school’ understands that managing and maintaining reputation is the primary goal of marketing. Look at the highest ranked brand in the world, Apple. Ask anyone what Apple means and they will say ‘ease of use’ and ‘design elegance’ or some variation on those two attributes. This perception did not come about because of Apple’s $900 million + marketing budget. It came because it is true as evidenced by the user experience. Their reputation was not created by agency types, it was created by fanatically great product design and experience design. Yes, they spend the big bucks- they are the largest company on the planet by market cap. But if their products didn’t cause people on Facebook to simply advise their friends to ‘get a Mac, it just works’, the ad dollars would be wasted.
This is no different for the mom and pop sandwich shop. We have a small sub shop chain based in Rochester (DiBella’s) that is growing rapidly because ‘everyone’ knows they make the best subs and ‘everyone’ knows you can get in and out of there quickly and efficiently, even at the peak of lunchtime. They do very little advertising because their reputation precedes them- new locations are virtually guaranteed success with a little word of mouth.
As marketers, we’re much more interested in analyzing and optimizing a reputation than charging insane amounts of money for logos, tag lines, brand strategy documents, etc. Revenue follows reputation and we are interested in measurable results.