Nancy Myrland All Posts, Branding 9 Comments

To discuss branding in the age of Social Media, one must first understand what branding is:

Let’s start with a brand.  What is it?

A brand is the set of characteristics, the personality, the way of doing business with you that is evident to anyone who does business with you, or who observes you.

  • It tells people who you are.
  • It tells people what you’re like when they do business with you.
  • It tells people what your personality is.
  • It tells people what you know…or don’t know.
  • It tells people what they can expect from you.
  • It evokes a feeling based on all of the above.

Let’s look at a few examples:


What comes to mind when you hear or see the name Starbucks? It’s different for different people.

  • Expensive?
  • Quality drinks?
  • Trendy?
  • Choice?
  • The go-to place for coffee lovers?
  • Quality plastic cups?
  • A little too cool for school?

Whether you’re a Starbucks fan or not, certain words and feelings come to mind when you hear or see their name.  This is their brand in your mind.

Southwest Airlines

  • Inexpensive, or less expensive than most?
  • No frills?
  • No fees?
  • Happy-go-lucky flight attendants?
  • Go to the source?
  • No resellers?
  • No markup?
  • Inconvenient?
  • Cattle call?

Again, certain words and feelings come to mind when you hear or see the Southwest Airlines name.  These words, feelings and characteristics are their brand.

You have these thoughts and feelings because of the process that Starbucks, Southwest Airlines and, these days, their customers, supporters and detractors have undertaken to communicate what they are like to do business with.

That process is branding.  It is the act, or actions, that communicate the brand that we discussed above.

Branding is often in our control because of a strategic process we have undertaken that helps us identify what our firms, companies and individuals stand for, and how they would like to be perceived.  It is sometimes out of our control because of the reactions others have to our brand, and their attempts to alter that perception in peoples’ minds via any chosen method of communication.

If branding is the process of communicating that which we know we stand for, our brand, and which we’d like to make sure others understand about us, then what should that process include?  It should include just about everything we and our colleagues say and do because our clients, potential clients, influencers, media and others we have defined as our target audiences are watching today in a way they never have before.

Because we are communicating so publicly today via Social Media, we need to remember that our presence in these media, just as in traditional media, helps to communicate to others what our brand is.

For example, if I stand for…

  • Marketing
  • Knowledge of social media
  • Being a strategic thinker
  • Understanding business
  • Professionalism
  • Quality thinking
  • Informed opinions
  • The importance of self-education
  • Caring for other professionals
  • Advancing my craft
  • A well-rounded marketing perspective
  • Interactive
  • Conversational
  • Advice born of years of study, observation and immersion
  • Being easy to do business with, and
  • Caring for my clients

…then it is important that what and how I communicate via Social and other media is consistent with those characteristics.

Critical Note

Branding is not communicating that which I, and you, are not.  If I am none of the above, then I shouldn’t try to create a persona that is a wish-list, and neither should you.  In fact, the process of branding becomes quite easy because it is very simply that which I already stand for, and which I am working on daily.

Branding Never Ends

You and I, and every firm, company and brand, have the responsibility to never stop branding.  It is part of our responsibility as business owners, partners, managers and employees to help our target audiences understand what we are like to do business with, and to help them understand what makes us unique.

Remember, no two entities are identical.  As long as there are human beings involved, there will always be unique brand characteristics to show others whom we would like to know, and those with whom we would like to do business.

Others Brand Us

It is also important to know that branding takes place whether we want it to or not. Because of the rise and growth of Social Media, conversations are taking place today in unprecedented numbers. It becomes even more important to step up, be deliberate about our branding process, take part in Social Media, interact, listen to the conversation and react accordingly in order to support and protect our brands.

If we don’t, who will?

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Comments 9

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Branding in the Age of Social Media --

  2. I think an important bullet to add to your first list is that a brand is very much about what makes you or your organization different. More than just personality. How do you stand alone in a crowded marketplace and bring something to the table that no one else has.

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  5. I attended a meeting last Thursday and the guest speaker was Dave Ridley, Sr VP of Marketing for Southwest Airlines. In 40 yrs they have grown from 190 employees to 35,000. His theme was healthy relationships make for success. They have a certain culture which has helped with their branding; they put a lot of emphasis on hiring the right person. I think it is safe to say for the most part the Southwest Airlines brand is certainly thought of in a positive way.

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    Hi Bill…I agree! I think Southwest has a very positive brand, and they’ve worked hard to accomplish that as they’ve been very deliberate about their efforts. I would like to have heard Dave Ridley speak. The interesting thing is that other airlines’ policies and fees have also served to brand Southwest more favorably too, which speaks to the point about others branding us whether we realize it or not. Thank you very much for stopping by, and adding to the discussion.

  7. Nancy, I loved this when I read it, as I thought it was one of the most comprehensive, yet concise articles I have read (and I have oodles of stuff written about branding!) With your permission, I’d like to share it with a client group when I lead them through their efforts to engage in personal brand awareness. I’ll, of course, offer full attribution on the handout. Would that be acceptable?

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