“I am the global brand manager on Coca-Cola.” Yeah right.
A brand is nothing more than the set of impressions that live in my head and your head and everybody else’s head. And these impressions are formed by everything the brand has said and done and not said and not done and by every experience we’ve had with that brand. Like, for me Coca-Cola brings back happy childhood memories of my grandfather because my grandfather would let me have Coca-Cola when my mother would not.
And there is a global brand manager in Atlanta managing this brand?
I am a brand strategist. I am not however a creator of brands. My job is to find out what has been, what is, and what can be. And to make sense of this within a powerful brand strategy. I am a mirror. I am a detective. I am a social psychologist. But I do not create brands. I reflect them. And I need to know how they fit into the collective consciousness.
Social media. I dislike that term. These are social gathering places facilitated through technology. In the old days people would gather in the town square, in the coffee shops, in the pubs, wherever … and they now gather online. Get togethers on steroids to paraphrase Vaynerchuk. And it’s at these get togethers that community is built. Community that implies shared values and shared culture and shared aspiration.
Back to branding.
Branding is precisely this. A sense of community centered on an interest that matters. For example, photographers will agree that Leica (or Nikon or Canon) best represents the values and culture and aspirations of the community gathered around the common interest called photography. They may disagree about Coca-Cola and BMW. But probably not about Leica or Nikon or Canon.
Social media (oh how I dislike that term) facilitates these large communities. Where people who do not really know each other at all connect through a common interest. And they become friends. And they follow each other. And they like the same things. Or disagree about what they like but come to some kind of conclusion about what they agree about.
What fertile ground for a brand strategist!
As strategists we would research, then analyze, then build brand architecture, then design messaging streams, then communicate to stakeholders in a way that would motivate and align them.
And now this can all be done through these get togethers on steroids.
SAY HELLO TO OPEN SOURCE BRANDING
Where communities express themselves and dream and create and imagine and get involved and disagree and agree and build common culture and values. Where they find the building blocks that create brands.
Sounds too good to be true? It’s not.
Sounds insane? It’s not.
The Limassol Branding Project has just been launched. It’s the world’s first interactive destination branding project involving anyone who has enough interest in this city to “JOIN THE CONVERSATION” and “share today” and “shape tomorrow.” On Facebook. On Twitter. On blogs. And in live meetings. The project is just two days old and the flood of interest exceeds all my expectations. The launch presentation was the ninth most popular presentation on SlideShare on Saturday 9 July … for a little city of 200,000 inhabitants. This is what I call engagement.
Limassolians are expressing their DNA, their aspirations, their thoughts about their city, and offering some brilliant marketing ideas along the way. Like how about downloadable email signatures for use on their personal emails. Or daily submissions of photographs in and around the city with the best of the week voted by the community. WOW. WOW. WOW.
Think about it. The brand we are developing is the city. But the city is the people. And the people are expressing themselves in this “get together on steroids” facilitated by Facebook and Twitter and Slideshare and Youtube.
Still want to do focus groups so you can manage your brand?
It is not your brand.
It belongs to everyone who feels it is theirs.
Power to the people.
See the Limassol Branding Project at http://www.facebook.com/Limassolbrand