Branding in the age of social media

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Required reading this week at FreshNetworks has been this great presentation from Mike Trap on what he calls ‘scalable intimacy’, the intersection between branding and social media.

For Trap a brand is not the stimulus, but the collective emotional response to this. In other words, a brand is not defined by the product or service, but rather it is defined by everybody who uses, talks about and interacts with it. This is reflected very much in the shift we’re seeing in marketing and advertising, from a (false) assumption that people are defined by the brands they use, to an understanding that brands are defined by the people who use them. Even though I have been known to shop there, I am not defined by Abercrombie and Fitch, rather they are defined by me, they are part of my personal brand and mingle and mix with other brands (such as Virgin Atlantic, Apple and many others). Brands are not composed of the people who buy their product, rather people are composed of the brands they use.

Understanding this is a powerful stage. As Trap suggests it means that the conversations and discussions that consumers have about a brand are of critical importance. It is here that the brand is defined and that influence and word of mouth grows. Social media allows brands to really capitalise upon this. Not only does it allow more of these conversations to go on, and more people to be reached by them, it also means that brands can facilitate and join in these conversations.

This is why online communities are important and really allow brands to engage with their customers in the way their customers have always wanted them to.

See Trap’s presentation below for more of his thoughts on this. It’s best viewed with the audio on.

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  1. Gavin Heaton:

    Claiming that “people are composed of the brands they use” is still seeing branding from a business’ point of view. Surely we need to be rethinking the relationships between businesses and consumers, not trying to impose old models on emergent, social systems?

  2. lisa winter:

    i found this video itself because someone twittered it. i have a small business selling handmade products, a lot of people i know doing the same thing are trying to use twitter as a marketing tool. however, they are trying to replicate the style of just getting their name out. twittering occasionally about sales, or new products. i think that what you are suggesting is much more powerful. i’m excited to take the ideas in this slide show and applying them to my business. thanks for a great resource.

  3. Ari Herzog:

    Isn’t Mike great? I saw him present this set of slides last Thursday night at the Ignite Boston event. From my vantage point, many others also enjoyed his message.

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  7. Sascha:

    fantastic article… real good information!
    Best regards from Germany

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  12. Branding Tips:

    I was so keen to learn about social media & branding together, lately I had an argument with one of my friend on this subject. Your blog post concluded a lot of my doubts. Thanks for writing this, it helped a lot.