is a branding author, consultant, coach, and motivational “speecher” who gets entrepreneurs and corporations to brand out, stand out, and cash in on their business. Download
her free Confessions of an Entrepreneur: 99 Indispensable Lessons to Build Your Brand and Business or connect with her at Liz@RedFireBranding.com
Before we start, could you first explain how the advent of intranet, social networks, mobile revolution changed branding and how digital branding is different/similar to traditional methods used pre-2000s?
LG: Branding has forever changed with the advent of the Internet and social media. Everyone today has a voice and the opportunity to influence perception. Most importantly, customers want to engage with brands the way THEY want to; the days of one-way communication are over!
Influencers expect your response via Twitter within hours; they demand clarification via Facebook; and they want answers via Instagram instantly. Ignore social media and your brand plummets.
Many digital branding books rely heavily on punk aesthetics. Be yourself, break the rules, polarize, etc. Is ‘provocation’ really the only way to get noticed today? What’s your advice?
LG: Let’s be clear: shock, controversy, and sex sell. You are only allowed to represent your brand consistent with its DNA. The Pillsbury Dough Boy, for example, doesn’t get to rap, attend a cocktail party, or confront the Jolly Green Giant. He belongs in the kitchen being his cute, cuddly, and lovable self.
One of the trends most visible today is that corporates brands increasingly depend on personal brands of business leaders. Apple – Jobs, Tesla-Musk, etc. Could you elaborate on this dichotomy and synergies/pitfalls that come with it?
LG: Having a strong CEO brand builds awareness, generates expectations, and pre-sells the company to stakeholders, customers, and consumers. However, a few leaders are so powerful that they are transformed into superstars such as Richard Branson (Virgin), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Jack Dorsey (Twitter) and even the legendary Steve Jobs (Apple). The problem, however, is that these star brands can overshadow the main brand, shifting the power so that when the leader leaves or dies, the perception of the whole company is in a precarious position without a clear brand identity.
What branding mistakes (digital or otherwise) do you see companies and individuals make most often.
LG: 1. Brands Giving Up Too Early
– Marketing messages, campaigns, strategies, or tagline take time to get traction. How many times, for example, has El Pollo Loco changed its tagline just in the last 2 years? It’s flirted with Mexexcellence, Crazy You Can Taste, and even held a contest that yielded “Without the flame, it ain’t the same” which never was fully deployed. Wear out is always quicker internally than externally.
2. Letting Fear Overwhelm New Ideas
– Brands must step out of the ordinary and take controlled risks. UBS stepped out of the ordinary financial planning rhetoric to serve up its “Asking Life’s Tough Questions” ad; it stopped us in our tracks, yet the message was on target and on track.
3. Believing social media is a strategy
– Social media is a tactic that demands a solid strategy. Chipotle is a company that has used social media to its advantage, especially during a time of crisis. It responded quickly, efficiently, and answered what it could when it knew answers. Of course, it was also part of a bigger public relations campaign of putting its CEO front and center.
What resources, blogs, books, podcasts do you recommend to our readers who want to build a successful digital brand?
LG: Of course, I welcome readers to my blog, Words of Lizdom
, but I also believe that great branding means remaining aware. You must know who won the Super Bowl, watch the Grammys, follow presidential politics, and immerse yourself in the media if you are trying to own a piece of it. If 4.5 million folks are tweeting about Kanye, you need to know why!
Thank you for the interview.