One would think so, if you talked to some branding or design experts 10-15 years ago. The whole premise behind building a strong brand is strategic marketing messages delivered consistently and regularly over time right? Well… yes and no.
The brand is really much more than the design and marketing elements you put out to promote your company. It is in everything you do: how you answer the phone, how you service your customers, the quality of your product, your customer and prospect’s gut feeling about your company.
In the past this was all controlled by your company and the branding firm you hired to help you deliver the company message. Now things are different.
Today, external sources are building and destroying brands. The key is to be a part of this and join the conversation – good or bad. So you need to focus on reputation building, engaging and connecting with clients and prospects on their terms and their medium of choice. This online stuff is similar to the old days of PR, now it is just done a little faster since the internet can be instant.
6-12 months ago I wrote a few blog articles focused on some of the mistakes printing companies are making.
- Are (printing) plant tours a strong sales tool?
- Personalized Variable Printing makes lazy marketers
Earlier this month I had a print vendor I use, forward me an email newsletter put out by PIA Mid America (Printing & Imaging Association). As I scroll through the newsletter, I am quite surprised to see my name as a link in one of the articles.
Wow! I thought to myself… what’s this all about. So I read the article. Another person mentioned in this article was Patrick Henry and his article Plant Tours: Excursions to Nowhere?. This newsletter picked up and quoted some of my article in their newsletter article. Who knows how big the PIA email list was, but I thank them for covering the Brandwise thoughts on the print industry and promoting us as thought leaders.
On top of this I went to read Patrick Henry’s article. Patrick mentioned the two Brandwise articles mentioned above. The interesting thing is Patrick is a writer on the Print CEO blog. This article got several comments mostly from print owners and started a discussion on our thoughts. The point of this article is Buzz Marketing and building brands by external sources. This is a perfect example of how others are helping us build our brand by influencing their many readers. These readers are people, Brandwise may not have been able to reach on our own. At least not with the credibility these two organizations have passed on to us.
You see, two highly connected people in the print world took notice. They not only took notice, they shared these ideas with their connections telling the group these are valuable ideas, check it out. This makes them influencers to the print industry.
Customers are now able to share their thoughts on how to make your business better. The article and newsletter has opened some eyes in the print industry from an outsider’s perspective, better yet to a print buyer’s perspective. I am trying to help the print industry now will they apply new ideas? This is the real question. So to some we are now being looked at as thought leaders in the print world thanks to the higher ups sharing our thoughts. This could help us build our following and potentially help an industry we love make changes and keep up with an ever changing marketplace.
Can you see how leaving your brand in someone else’s hands can be a good thing? Can you see how these things could greatly help my business over time as this becomes more and more frequent?
Who would have though a branding firm would be recommending letting out a little slack on the reigns and giving some control over to the public. In this day and age it is time to have trust that people will manage your brand well and help you build it by sharing your brand with others.
The point is this- you can’t buy this kind of advertising. People trust outsiders more than the trust your polished brand messaging.
In todays marketplace you must be open, transparent and authentic in order to compete, especially online.
Brand loyalty is built by customers, not companies!