Posts Tagged ‘branding’

Does social media beget brands?

Monday, January 18th, 2010 by Jon Clements


Postrank’s top blogs of 2009 has just placed PR Media Blog at number 15 among our peers, based on a level of engagement and influence.

Aside from creating regular content (our job), the engagement factor is down to you, the reader; so, we must thank you heartily for that.

To receive such an accolade makes one wonder whether we have, in a small way, created a brand of our own. If a brand is something that has built trust and influence among a group of people, then PR Media Blog might just be that. But if it possesses any semblance of brand values, these have not been created in isolation. Though we do the legwork in creating something for you to read, it has been the comments on posts, the feedback and retweets on Twitter and the trackbacks from other blogs that have helped us to refine and shape the blog. Equally, our guest bloggers are entitled to part-ownership of our micro-brand.

So, is our humble example emblematic of a shift in the evolution of a brand and who owns it?

Naomi Klein’s seminal book and examination of brand power, No Logo, is 10 years old and gets an update to be published later this month. The author’s latest article describes how, at the height of her fame, “megabrands and advertising agencies…wanted me to give them seminars on why they were so hated…a kind of anti-corporate dominatrix making overpaid executives feel good by telling them what bad, bad brands they were.”

To her credit, Klein never donned the metaphorical leather and whips. But, today, organisations don’t need to call upon Klein for such flagellation. Social media has amassed an army of brand critics only too happy to share their disappointment with the performance of companies. However, happy customers share their praise too.

In providing positive and negative sentiment online, they are giving organisations the opportunity to improve on their failings while interacting with a community of – well – fans. But to harness this wealth of management information, there has, first, to be a willingness to listen.

Listening to and acting on customer feedback is the essential precursor to worrying about brand. Klein illustrates this with the example of Price Floyd, erstwhile media relations direction at the US State Department. When, during the reviled Bush presidency, his colleagues urged more media activity and more messaging in an attempt to turn around “brand America”, Floyd nailed the problem: “It’s not the packaging, it’s the substance that’s giving us trouble”.

If organisations believe they can create a brand in isolation and simply tell the world what it stands for, they may be disappointed. As Tamsen McMahon says in a recent guest post on the Conversation Agent blog: “A brand is the collective impression people gain not only from you and your marketing efforts, but from all of their interactions with you-and the interactions others have as well (newly amplified through social media).”

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Brand – Oh!

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008 by Jon Clements

What do you call a Skoda with a sun roof? A skip! (dumpster, if you’re a US reader)

Such jokes, unthinkable about Skoda cars now, were testament to the failure of a company to manage its appalling brand image. Certainly, the product didn’t help. But as Spencer mused on Twitter, Skoda moved from “embarrassing purchase to surprisingly good cars” – a “transformational brand”.

But “brand” – that word is everywhere. “So what, dummy?” you might say, and rightly so; working in PR, the concept should be a given.

But now that brands and branding seem to have entered the common vernacular – Top20 Coolest Brands reported in the Daily Star, a compendium of wise words from the experts in the Sunday Times’ business section, and even mid-evening radio programmes devoted to it on BBC Radio 4 – has the concept lost something? Is the alchemy of branding devalued by the possibility that Joe Public is “in on it”?

A useful definition from an unlikely source, legal news site Lawdit Reading Room, says “Many decisions about brands are made by customers emotionally or intuitively rather than rationally”. I never bought into that, reckoning my buying decisions were driven by the head (or, more often, the stomach), not heart. But recalling a trip to the USA, I realised that a brand journey was pure, unbridled emotion:

1. Book Florida/Disney/beach holiday with Virgin in one easy transaction: LOVE Virgin!

2. Arrived to find hotel atrocious – actually fearing for life – and Virgin reps couldn’t give a hoot: HATE HATE HATE Virgin!

3. Pour out heart to waiter at Hard Rock Cafe who vows to help us out: LOVE Hard Rock Cafe!

4. Move to Disney resort hotel. Previously HATE Disney because of prolonged exposure to son’s favourite Lion King soundtrack. Now, LOVE fabulous Disney hotel, even with Inca-themed restaurant.

5. Return flight to UK on same day as discovery of international liquid bomb plot. But, Virgin allows  me onto plane with contact lens fluids. LOVE LOVE LOVE Virgin!

I suppose that whether punters grasp a product’s “brand essence” or not, if you can get hold of their heart strings their purse strings will follow.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

“I-Brand U-Brand”

Monday, September 8th, 2008 by Rob Brown
Personal Branding on the Social Web


Why, I wondered does Neville Hobson hold his hand in front of his face in the picture on his blog…and on Twitter…and on…hang on a minute.

Is this a subtle form of personal branding?  Social networks; Facebook, Linked-In and microblogs like Twitter are growing fast and individuals are, if not clamouring for our attention, at least aware that there is a lot of noise out there.  If we are going to build an individual online presence it makes sense to follow some of the tradional rules of branding.  Consistency is one, which means using the same image across a range of networks.  Using a strong, stand out and easy to remember image is another.  Pr 2.0 gurus Todd Defren  and Brian Solis  both do this – Todd has a cartoon style image on his Twitter feed and Brian uses an arresting image with his specs in the foreground on his blog.  

Chris Brogan has just published an ebook on personal online branding so it’s a hot topic.  It’s an interesting read and looks at personal branding from a broad prespective.  What particularly fascinates me is the way in which people apply the iconographic rules that have histrically been used by brands totheir own images of themselves.  

This world has created some rules of its own.  Take a look at the picture above of some of the people I follow on Twitter.  These images are tiny, smaller than thumbnails, so making something work at this scale becomes part of the art.  Colin Byrne  CEO of Weber Shandwick and Deirdre Breakenridge author of the book PR 2.0 both use strong purple colours in their backgrounds to make them stand out.  Aleks Krotoski , presenter of The Guardian’s Tech Weekly podcast uses a close up of her fire red locks as her Twitter image (fifth row, left of middle).

I have no proof that any of these individuals have done anything other than post the first image they came across but whether by luck or good judgement they all stand out.  I have to confess I have toyed with the technique myself.  There is a deliberate use of colour in my profile pic and it seemed to me that if social networks use small images an extreme close up might be a good idea.  Charles Arthur Technology Editor of The Guardian didn’t agree.  He thinks I’m trying to hide a dodgy moustache

About Rob Brown

Rob Brown has worked in PR for over 20 years and for over fifteen years held senior PR positions within three major global advertising networks; Euro RSCG, McCann and TBWA. He launched his own business ‘Rule 5’ in MediaCityUK, Manchester in November 2012. Rob is the author of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ (2009), blogs for The Huffington Post and is joint editor of 'Share This Too' (2013).