The Degree Of Provocation Should Align With The Brand's Essence - Interview With Karen Post

The Degree Of Provocation Should Align With The Brand's Essence - Interview With Karen Post
Yana Zatsarnaya
February 4, 2016
Last updated: August 19, 2019
A branding enthusiast, serial entrepreneur, and resilient businesswoman, Karen Post helps businesses stand out & step up their brand.


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?

KP: There is a lot of common ground in both traditional and digital branding.

Same path forward:
Attraction, belief/values, attachment and advocacy.

They both are reputations, images and perceptions of business entities, products and or services. The brand is that mental impression and emotional connection with the seller and prospect or the buyer. Both are created by a sum of actions, communications and experiences. While the consumer makes the final decision about a brand, the brand owner has a lot of control to drive the opinions around its brand.

Big difference:
Digital is 24/7, real-time, responsive and can be personalized. The experience is limited to visual and audio senses. Relies on data and must be fast.

Traditional means has a heart beat, a human smile and can leverage all 5 senses. Humans still need humans.

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 advice do you give readers of Brain Tattoos?

KP: The degree of provocation should align with the brand's essence. If your brands is edgy, extreme measures makes sense. If your brand is conservative stay true to who you are.

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?

KP: There are pros and cons to mixing personal/leadership branding with corporate branding.

People like to do business with people they relate to and admire. If your leader is likable, that's a plus.

People are human, they can do stupid things and get hit by a car. Both can hurt a brand's image.

What branding mistakes (digital or otherwise) do you see companies and individuals make most often.

  • Lack of focus, by trying to be everything to everybody, they end up being nothing
  • Complexity, simple brands are smarter.
  • Being tactical instead of strategic. This means not working from a brand essence (purpose, points of difference, promise and personality)

If we go outside the usual suspects (Apple, PayPal, Tesla, Google), can you name a couple of smaller companies that do outstanding job with digital marketing and are good role models?


What resources, blogs, books, podcasts do you recommend to our readers who want to build a successful digital brand?



Thank you for the interview.

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