It started out being a person to person in person thing.
Names and Symbols came to represent it. Behaviors, ways of doing business, were associated. It varied only slightly due to geography and political affiliations. Capitalists reveled in it. Communists considered it propaganda and mastered a political version.
But even as it morphed as the size of some businesses increased and crossed borders at the heart it still represented a perception of being a person to person in person thing.
It continued to be seen as person to person but in person got lost somewhere along the way. Lost but not forgotten.
Brand is a shared perception.
The way people who are aware of your brand think, feel and believe about it is the way we approach it today. Masters of branding do everything they can to keep a singular vision of the product or service at the fore. They change only reluctantly to maintain share of mind and market.
What happens when perceptions are individual?
Big data could give sellers and advertisers a way to unlock the connections to a brand person by person. You could find yourself not only retargeted in your e-mail and on-line activities but in a way that gets at the heart of your relationship with the product or service.
You may see a brand as a world shift in how others see your body. But only you believe this shift is taking place. You could use a service because for you it is way to reflect your outgoing personality. But is it? Perhaps for others it is only a way to obfuscate.
Granted, those reactions are similar to what happens today. The thing to think about is how, as we are locked tighter and tighter in a digital embrace, our brand relationships now have a software filter.
What happens to individuals?
We are just beginning to see the impacts of digital culture. A family sits down for dinner at a restaurant. Mother, father and both children must interrupt their use of their smart phones to give their order. They immediately return to their phones. When dinner is served there is no conversation. They look at phones frequently as they eat. There is no person to person connection in person.
BUT there is a connection on line. Each of them is extending their relationship through a digital filter. One is texting an on-line friend. One is posting photos of the meal on Facebook. One elects to write a review of the meal. In simple terms, their relationships are not direct. They are filtered through the internet.
“Looking for love in all the wrong places.”
It is happening today. The internet has already become a surrogate. People vote with their wallets. A friend, exploring how people who buy on line see their relationships with sellers found that purchase behavior is frequently undertaken to win approval from the seller. It is a kind of “looking for love in all the wrong places.”
The receipt of a simple “thank you” e-mail after you give a brand your name and e-mail address is just the beginning. Whatever you were interested in, they are going to personalize messages to you about similar products. They will exploit your emotional connection without a second thought.
Bending the brand
The more the seller knows about you, the more the brand will be bent to be just for you. Yes, the appeal of most brands is pretty much the same for about 80% of their target audience but research I’ve conducted over the last 25 years shows that there are three reasons most folks buy. The secondary reason gets about 12 to 15% The third gets most of the rest.
Imagine if you were one of the second or third group. What if the digitally information served up to you was personalized to make that the primary way you were encouraged to see the brand? Would you want to get the approval of the brand that knew your heart’s desires? Would you go out of your way to keep that brand in the way you showed the world who you are?
The reality of brand automation
We are not there yet. We are well on the way. Human nature may yet find a way to sidestep the tsunami of surrogacy. This is just the latest revelation about brand. Research done 25 years ago verified the power of brand in the marketplace and predicted the growth of “tribes.”
What is old may yet be new again. And so it goes.
Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com
His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for Trust-based Brand development, Positioning and business development for independent professionals on and off-line.