To Brand or Not to Brand Part I

Is branding the new buzzword like “empowerment”  or “synergy” used to be? Yes,it is and it’s catching on rapidly. Why are we so excited about a word that originated with the practice of stamping cattle with a hot iron?

I don't know about you, but I often wonder why we are so desperate to latch on to words that make us sound so sophisticated?

Small business owners are inundated with terms that the barrage is likely to cause them to do one of two things: Nothing, out of sheer confusion, or worse yet, to get tempted and change everything.

So let’s clarify what branding is all about.

Apple, Coke, Pepsi, Google are all brands. Xerox was a classic and to this day we say, “I need to Xerox a paper.” Now that’s what I call a brand. The success of marketing giants is measured by the fact that we replace a noun or a verb with their brand. Instead of “search the web,” we “Google.” Coke used to dominate the soft drink world. Hats off to Pepsi for coming in a close second: “I’d like a diet Coke” to which you hear, “Is Pepsi okay?” Apple has now replaced all previous brands as the most recognized worldwide brand.

What I find amazing is the fuss about a concept that has been around for a very long time. Years ago when I graduated with a MBA in Marketing (okay, over twenty-five years ago, happy now?), marketing was relatively unknown. Marketing professionals were a cult like Apple users - we were considered weird and stupid for wasting money getting a degree that was really “sales” (ouch).

But, fear not my fellow marketers, marketing is back in a big way. You can barely escape marketing these days: Web marketing, social media marketing, internet marketing, guerrilla marketing and yes...brand marketing.

If you aren't confused enough, add the newly conceived brand trends: Brand trust, brand influence, brand data, brand behavior,branded content, brand visualization, brand experience and brand accountability.

Stay tuned for Part II in a few days.