This cartoon was inspired by a question from Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell. Jackie and Ben are interviewing me as part of the Post2Post blogging book tour I’m doing this week. They asked: ” Is branding dead and if so, where do we bury the body?”
I definitely don’t think branding is extinct, but I do think it’s evolved. So, I decided to use the evolution metaphor to play with a couple stereotypes in the noble profession of marketing.
Doctors have Hippocrates. Even lawyers have Atticus Finch. But, ask most consumers what archetypes they think of for marketers and the snakeoil salesman comes to mind.
I think that’s because much of the history of marketing and branding has been about concocting a story consumers wanted to hear, even if the story was a wee bit phony. Charles Revson, founder of Revlon, famously quipped: “In our factories, we make cosmetics. In the store, we sell hope.”
Nowadays, consumers are often in the marketer’s seat. Consumers have always been the best source for what your brand means (not what’s on a brand architecture tacked up in the office). But, the power used to be with the marketer to sculpt and shape that message. The question to ask now is no longer how your consumers play back the message you told them. It’s what message are they spreading to others.
With rise of social media, consumers are quick and empowered to share brands they like. But, they are also quick and empowered to point out hypocritical stuff they they don’t like. (Jackie and Ben wrote about this phenomenon in their book, Citizen Marketers).
I think the key is to tell an authentic brand story (but careful that you don’t overdo that like the authenticity hawker in the cartoon).
And then find ways to enable your consumers to advocate on your behalf.
I love how the gDiapers brand has found a way to recruit consumers to even do in-store demos and go to local events on behalf of the brand. Now that’s powerful. If you want to know what the gDiapers brand means, just ask these moms. You can be sure they’re not snakeoil salesmen.
If you’d like the full interview, Jackie and Ben are posting it on Tuesday on their Church of the Customer blog.