Tag: branding

Company Culture is your Company Reputation

Building on the theme from yesterday, I am now more motivated than ever by an article on the Fast Company site today: Culture Eats Strategy For Lunch

A number of books on my list this past month (Tribal Leadership and Delivering Happiness to name two) showed me just how critical a true, strong, and real culture is in allowing any organization to step beyond the brand. When a company can step beyond its brand, it has the rare opportunity to demonstrate what it means to be a great, not merely a good, company.

How do you do it? The examples are everywhere, and they all show the same thing – the company comes last.

Ok, so maybe not last, but you get the point. Doing what’s right for the company (and in really bad companies, what’s right for me!) has turned organizations so many companies into examples of corporate inertia: If we keep doing this, maybe they won’t hate us.

How has your company REALLY (no lip service allowed!) put the customer first today?

Can you find an example where the whole company put the customer (not A CUSTOMER) first?

Image courtesy of Jacob Nielsen

Branding, Authority, and Reputation: A Parable

On a fine July day, a local man runs into a neighborhood bar carrying a stack of pamphlets, and wearing the hat announcing a new service. His beaming smile and easy attitude made the rest of the patrons want to listen to him.

“I have seen the greatest new thing in the history of our species,” he started. “A man in this very town has created a simple potion that, when taken once a month, allows your teeth to gleam, your farts to smell like rainbows, and gold coins to appear instantly from your fingertips!”

The crowd surged around him, listening to his spiel. They were spellbound, and chattered amongst themselves enthusiastically.

Then a local Man of Prestige entered the bar and listened for a few minutes. He shouted down the smiling pitchman and, with a sarcastic sneer on his face, said, “That’s Crazy Joe’s stuff isn’t it?”

The crowd stopped shouting and started murmuring.

“Crazy Joe has been tinkering in his garage for years,” the Man of Prestige started to say, not repressing his mirth. “One of his potions turned his dog into a three-legged, one-eyed rabbit with a rat-tail. His family has left him, and he is living on hand-outs.”

The Man of Prestige made his final point: “Why would you by something from a failure like Crazy Joe?”

The murmur had turned into a beehive buzz. Then someone shouted, “Look! It’s Crazy Joe!”

As Joe walked into the bar, expecting the welcome of a returning hero, he was met by jeers and shouts of derision. The crowd occasionally looked to the Man of Prestige to ensure he was still laughing.

“Drinks on me!”, Shouted the Man of Prestige, and the crowd followed him to the other end of the bar for their free gift for believing in his opinion.

Joe was near tears. His pitchman was in shock. After a moment, Joe spoke up. Looking at his pitchman, he said, “C’mon. I’ll buy you a drink.”

They sat at the empty end of the bar as the Man of Prestige regaled the crowd with tales of himself and his ventures and investments. They watched in disgust for a few minutes, then Joe ordered two shots of scotch for each of them.

A few seats down, two strangers from another town sat. They had no idea who the Man of Prestige was, or why he was so quick to dismiss this great idea. They sat, quietly watching Joe and his pitchman shoot down their drinks, take one more forlorn look to the end of the bar, and get up to leave.

Then, they watched in incredulous disbelief as Joe create three solid gold coins from his index finger to pay for the drinks.

The strangers gaped as Joe and the pitchman walked out, then looked back to the gabbling madness surrounding the Man of Prestige, all of whom were oblivious to the great thing that had just happened.

The strangers jumped from their stools and ran off after Joe and the pitchman, pulling money from their pockets as they ran.

Peter Kim's discussion of Social Media Marketing and Scalability

If you are interested in the area of social media marketing, head over to Peter Kim’s blog and check out Social Media Marketing’s Scalability Problem. The post is excellent, and the comments are the kind of conversation that needs to be had in this area.
The best comments so far:

The interesting thing is that this post is nearly two months old. And without realizing it, that’s about the time I started writing about conversation and community, branding v. reputation, and how the content-based advertising algorithms are failing the social media market.

I agree with the commenters and Peter Kim that there is a scalability problem when you are trying to have a conversation. that’s why companies rely so much on branding. However, if you take the time to build a community, you don’t have to scale your own conversation, as you will have the community willing to build your reputation.

Conversations and community happen around the reputation of brands, people, and products. And where there is a gap between the branding message and the reputation conversation, that’s when the greatest problems arise.

(Personal) Branding is Closed-Source

Last night I asked myself what would happen if blogs and social-media sites were no longer allowed to have advertising on them. What would be the revenue model for them? How would they generate income?

I fell back to the position that these sites were not originally created to be driven by advertising, but to develop “personal brands”, a topic that has been discussed by Chris Brogan [here and here] and others.

Then I realized something else: The idea of a personal brand, and the concepts of community and conversation, are mutually exclusive. How can a brand interact with a community? How can a brand participate in a conversation?

People do these things. And while brands are important to people when thinking about companies, when dealing with with people, there is a far more important factor that gives a person’s opinion weight in a conversation: Reputation.

In a conversation and in a community, how you are perceived, regarded, and trusted is critical to allowing what you say to matter. If you have no reputation, your opinion may be politely listened to, and promptly ignored.

It comes to this: Branding and Brands, be they corporate or personal, are closed-source. By their nature a brand is something that is directed and defined by the brand-ee, not the community.

Reputation is the opposite of that. Reputation is what a brand gets from the community, from the conversation had outside the branded entity.
What does this mean?

Branding is closed-source. Reputation is open-source.

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