The biggest open secret in marketing is this: You don’t really control your brand, and you never have.
This is as true today as it was when your mother said, “You can’t control what other people think of you.” Because that’s the truest definition of a brand: what other people think of you. It’s not your name, your look and feel, or your message. A brand is not even what you think of you. A brand is what other people think of you.
But that’s just why brands are such powerful marketing assets. The reason brands are trusted as shortcuts for decision-making is precisely because they live inside the audience’s mind.
And, while you can’t control your brand, you certainly can cultivate it. You can define what you ideally hope your brand to be. You can look, talk and act like that ideal. You can become that ideal, and then, more often than not, that ideal will become your brand.
Today, marketers have more tools than ever to look, talk and act like their ideal. The digital marketing revolution hasn’t changed the definition of a brand, but it has empowered the tactics of branding. Marketing’s online transformation can be seen as a brand manager’s treasure in (at least) three key ways:
So, as with many things in life, the answer to getting what you want is to give up control. Your customer’s idea of you — your brand — is still the most powerfully persuasive asset you can cultivate. And cultivating an effective brand has never been more possible than with the speed, segmentation and socialization afforded by the digital marketing revolution. Like your mother said, “You can’t control what other people think of you.” But, you can work every day to be the company you want them to think of.
Do you agree with my thoughts on brand cultivation in today’s modern marketing landscape? Let me know in the comments section below.
This post originally appeared on The Mx Group blog.
By Suzanne Martin, former BMA Chicago President
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