Some things never change, but mostly they do. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. How has the idea of “brand” evolved over the decades?
What did “brand” mean in the 1800s? 1900s? The “Mad Man” days … versus what is happening now? Are some fundamentals of branding foundational and evergreen, or is the idea of “the brand” shifting toward something new?
I have some of my own ideas about this, but I polled some of my smart friends and they came through for me with some great perspectives. Let’s get into this fascinating debate.
Branding is more important than ever
I first started studying this question of brand evolution in 2014 as I was writing The Content Code. In this book I envisioned a new content marketing approach required by a world filled with far too much content. One conclusion: Branding in the modern world is more important than ever. Content marketing today is a war for attention. If you already have some brand recognition, and maybe even an emotional response to a certain brand, you have an advantage in winning the war.
Evelyn Starr, CEO and Founder E. Starr Associates
In the past, companies could influence their brand image by tapping the dominant media of the time — TV, radio, print. But they were never really in control, which is why when social media came along things unraveled so fast.
Samantha Stone, Founder and CEO Marketing Advisory Network
Carlos Oramas, CEO GEMS Group
Chad Illa-Petersen, Founder Social Chadvisor
This is still the case. The identities, images that represent the “brand” may have changed, but “the brand” is still your biggest asset. Whether that’s is people, causes, quality, or a tiger on a cereal box, your brand is still the thing that makes you grrrreat
Shannah Haley, Director of Communications, City of Plano
Gene Petrov, CEO Petrov LMC
Jeff Thomas, President 30dps
Tyler Lessard, VP Marketing Vidyard
Nir Betan, COO at StudeoHQ
My own view
Many aspects of branding are the same … and always will be. The “Four Ps” are still solid – Place, Product, Promotion, and Price all matter, all communicate. I would add a fifth P in some cases – Purpose, which is quite different form the MadMen days.
Great branding requires that you connect some emotion to your product that compels a customer to buy.
Creating a long-lasting brand image — like Disney, Nike, or American Express — is important. But increasingly, branding is in-the-moment as consumers are always-on, always discovering, always reacting to the pulse of the culture. Example: Budweiser created a campaign in 12 hours based on a single strange event at a baseball game.
A brand used to be about changing a consumer. Today, it is more about respecting a consumer’s ability to make up their own mind and coming alongside them.
A brand used to be what we told you. Today, a brand is what consumers tell each other. Marketing today is about earning a place in that conversation. The customer is the marketer. How do we help them do that job?