I’m sitting at lunch with friends just the other day and I was asked the question,
“What is branding?”
Branding is listening to a thirty-year old Michael Jackson song on the radio and recognizing the Eddie Van Halen guitar solo.
Branding is making a decision between using a restroom at a gas station or the restroom at a Starbucks.
Branding is being reminded of your beloved uncle when you smell pipe tobacco with a hint of cherry.
Is Branding A Logo?
Yes and no.
In many ways, branding is the connection of your sensual experiences. When I see a Diet Coke can, I become thirsty. Why? I remember the feel of a cold can in my hands, the sound the can makes when it pops open, the tickle down my throat, and the taste afterward. All of those memories are tied into the Diet Coke logo.
Human history is full of seals, rings, flags, coats of arms, and crests used to distinguish families, tribes, and nations. The human condition is curious; as much as we long for group acceptance, we still desire to be distinct and recognized. But I digress.
Although the etymology of branding is varied, we can all imagine a rancher using a hot iron to brand his livestock. Each ranch had a distinct logo that made a permanent impression. Though originally intended to distinguish ownership, the logo reflected on the rancher, whether good or bad.
Your behavior as a company will be associated with your logo. In this regard, the branding is the logo and the logo is the brand.
“When you have a relationship with a person, the logo has meaning.” (Tweet This)
In our day, branding makes a permanent impression, too. These impressions are based upon a person’s experience interacting with your company (brand) and there’s only so much of it you can control. With the introduction of social media, individual impressions gain a much greater audience.
“Every employee is your brand ambassador, your marketer, and the face of your company.” Scott Stratten: The Book of Business Awesome
Case in point. Twenty years ago I went to a pancake restaurant and there were cockroaches crawling on the table. Regardless of how many coupons they offer, how many all-you-can-eat pancake events they hold, I will never go to any of their restaurants again. That one experience made a lasting impression. Their advertising (branding) is no longer effective with me. My experience at their store made a permanent impression (branding).
Big brands, like Diet Coke, are often used as an example because we all recognize them, making the lesson relatable to a diverse audience.
The question always is:
How will that translate for me and my business on social media?
It’s simple. Behave online the way you would want to be perceived. If you want people to think that you’re professional, behave professionally. If you want people to believe you do quality work, produce quality content.
So what’s my strategy for a small, commercial general contractor, you ask?
I started our Twitter account in 2009; it was the gateway drug to content on additional social media platforms. With so many businesses becoming casualties of the recession I wanted to communicate two things:
- We’re still in business.
- We’re an established company but we’re not Luddites.
When asked about my strategy by E & T Plastics for their post, “How Construction Companies Are Using Social Media,” this was my reply:
“My strategy is to connect with others in our locality, learn and grow as a person, and bring brand awareness through the message that we are a stable company with roots in the past and a foot in the future.”
It’s true. I’m on Twitter et al for branding purposes and my online behavior can be tailored to that end. However, the other side of the branding coin is your collective perception.
I asked our followers on Google+ and Twitter to offer a response to this prompt.
“When I see Riggins Construction, I think _____.”
- North County Scaffold: “experienced & professional local contractor.”
- Call The Marketing Guy: ”professional”
- Randy Patton: “quality, very professional contractor”
- Architectural Element: “Great!”
- Motor Works: “I think how modern and wonderfully engaged they are.”
- In the Land of 6 & 7: “Riggins is in the know! Place to Go!”
- Carol Stephen: “I think high quality, awesome construction, and value. #NoCuttingCorners”
- Linda Snell: “Quality Construction”
- A/C Trax GPS: “Quality”
- Jay S. Daughtry M.Ed.: “When I see @RigginsConst I think ‘engaged brand.’”
True, I don’t have any negative feedback on this list; frankly, I’m happy to say that we don’t get it often. However, negative feedback can sometimes be more valuable. Not only does it help you refine your behavior (brand), but it can be used as an opportunity to win the heart of the grieved party. Check out this blog post about our experience using Twitter for customer service.
Recommended Reading / Watching:
- My Talk: You Are What You Tweet
- Scott Stratten: Why I Changed My Coffee Religion
- Pam Ann Marketing: Insane Loyalty: How to Get People Fanatically Addicted to You feat. Dino Dogan
- Gary Vaynerchuk: Keynote at RE/MAX Annual Convention 2011
- What 7-Eleven and A Billboard Say About ROI