I'll be talking about branding with Innovation Protocol's Managing Director, Sasha Strauss, at the Crawford Family Forum tonight. It will be the first installment of DeBord Report live at KPCC's community space, and I believe there's still time to RSVP!
Leading up to the discussion, I doing a micro-series on branding. I already talked about the Apple Genius Bar as a customer-service concept that really put the Apple brand over the top. Now I'm going to look at another fairly well-know Silicon Valley company and the impact it's had on branding.
Facebook isn't even ten years old, but it's already on the runway to be one of the biggest tech IPOs of all time. It claims hundreds of millions of users. And it's become an essential place for companies to make a case for their brands.
But this isn't your father's branding. The concept of "branding" is relatively young — no one talked about brands 50 years ago, as Sasha Strauss will point out. But for most of the history of brands, companies controlled the core message. Apple was what Apple said it was, Nike was what Nike said it was, Ford was what Ford said it was.
Customers had opinions about these companies and their brands, but they had no quick-and-easy, and even addictive, way to share their thoughts. Then social media came along.
Facebook is the biggest social network, so it has effected the biggest change. This is why it has to be dealt with.
1. Brands are now socially constituted. The age of telling customers who you are isn't over, but the process is much more collaborative now. Consumers owns brands as much as companies do. And while Ford, for example, may want to tell a controlled story about itself, across various media, on Facebook, people are free to say what they want — good, bad, and indifferent.
2. All media is feeding into Facebook. Look around the Web and what do you see? Thousands of content platform that have Facebook "Like" buttons. Let's say you're McDonald's or Coke. Somebody somewhere writes a blog post or creates some video content about your brand. There's a Like button. Before you know it, you have a firehose of online comments about content that you didn't create! This is entirely new and something that companies don't have any choices about dealing with. It simply happens.
3. Facebook is emotional — really emotional. The advent of the Facebook Timeline, which allows a users to see their entire Facebook life, has brought an emotional sweep to Facebook that it didn't have before, at least not in such a graphically compelling way. Companies are now existing in this emotionally turbocharged space because they maintain their own pages. Can they take the heat in this particular kitchen? It doesn't matter. Facebook has made it happen, so companies have to deal with the change in emotional temperature.