Social Media Strategy and Branding: What Are the Eight Functions of a Brand?

A world class brand has 8 functions. It is critical to understand these functions to create a world-class brand. In a New Media Age, a marketer must have a solid understanding of branding. Social Media is a god send for a marketer. In order for this great tool to work, a marketer must be able to drive customers to their brand, at the exclusion of all other brands.

The great part of social media is its incredible scale. This is also its greatest drawback. In social media there is just so much content. People have to come to your product for social media to work—and this is why branding is critical.

The eight functions of a brand are IDENTIFICATION, PRACTICALITY, GUARANTEE, OPTIMISATION, BADGE, CONTINUITY, HEDONISM, AND ETHICS. Let me briefly summarize each of these functions.

A brand clearly identifies a product and clearly explains why that product is different than the other products in that market space. Simply, a brand is the thing that sets a product a part from all other products. It helps a consumer make sense of an offer. Simply, the brand will identify a product for a consumer. A brand will act as a lighthouse for a consumer, shining a beacon in their eyes, in order that they will know what products to select in a flooded marketplace.

Products and brands all have a “story”. With so many products in the marketplace, a consumer needs a mechanism to explain, in simple terms, what a particular product is, and why that consumer should select that product. A brand saves time and energy for a consumer. People know that this is the product they want at this time. On a hot day, after a hard day’s work, a consumer wants a place to regroup. Where do you go. You go to a building that is clearly marked (branded). You go to this building because you know that you can sit down a relax in this building. Over a long series of touchpoints, the product has assured you that sit in this building a enjoy this product.

A brand guarantees the product. The brand communicates to the consumer that if the product doesn’t work out as expected, the money or the product will be replaced.

A brand creates an image for a consumer. It creates a badge. The use of this brand communicates to other people that you are “successful”. A certain car is used by successful businessmen. Other cars might more sense, economically, to buy, but this car conveys “success”. If you drive this car, the brand gives you a badge.

Brands create a sense of satisfaction and trust. They create continuity. A bank’s symbol conveys that it has been in business for 200 years. If you bank there, the brand tells a consumer that their money is safe, and in good hands. When you buy a house, and there is a hurricane, a certain insurance company puts you in good hands. Brands a create friendship with customers in the social media age. This creates a relationship. It is relationships based on friendship that motivate a customer to buy.

Brands are hedonistic. The relationship between a customer and a product creates a friendship that leads to enchantment and attractiveness of the product. The hedonism of a brand creates loyalty. To create this enchantment, logos, theme songs, and phrases are created that communicate the experiential rewards.

The satisfaction that the product brings is linked to responsible and ethical behavior. This responsibility solidifies the relationship between the product and consumer and creates the long term relationship that leads to brand.

Some brands have succeeded in proving with their slogans that they know and understand what their fundamental task is: to transform the product category. A brand not only acts on the market. It organizes the market, drives a vision, creates a calling, and develops a clear idea of what the category is all about. Too many brands wish only to identify with the product category. In social media, products and consumers create a two way friendship.

Social Media Strategy And Branding – What Is Reverse Branding And Why Is It Important?

In social media marketing brands have to become personal. If this is done, strong brands will be created. Reverse branding is when a customer creates a brand with its own brand. This is critical in creating strong brands. One of the fundamental rules of social marketing is that customers and brand must create relationships with one another.

A marketing important statistic is that 97% of all brand purchases are done because of a friend’s recommendation. Only 10% of all purchases are done because of traditional, old media. Creating friendships and having “friends” to recommend our products is simply basic fundamental social media marketing. A great deal of a marketer’s time is now spent on creating brands that create “friendships” with customers.

In my research, I’ve found an interesting development. This development is what I call reverse branding. This is when a customer creates a relationship with their brand. The brand then has a personal relationship with the customer that intensifies brand presence.

There is a case of a university fundraiser. They were having some success in raising money for this university for scholarship funds. The manager of this fundraiser group had an idea. He created a five minute meeting with students who had gotten scholarships through the efforts of this group. These were students who never could have afforded college without the efforts of this fundraising group.

These were kids who had “compelling” content. These were kids who came from middle class background. They had hardworking parents who never could have afforded to send their kids to college without the efforts of this group. These talks were a game changer for this fundraising group. The talks made their jobs—their brand—personal. These students created a brand with the fundraisers. They had names, they had faces, and they now existed, in comparison to other college students.

The talks created differentiation, positioning, and strong branding. The talks created a reverse brand. The students created a differentiated and positioned brand with their brand. The end users created a brand with the brand. At this particular fundraising group, after the talk with the students, the weekly fundraising productivity increased by 400%. The reason for this is that the students were now a brand, etched into the minds of the fundraisers. This brand now became personal.

Three things create reverse branding. Customers create IMPACT with their brand. Employees see for themselves how their work benefits others.

Reverse branding creates APPRECIATION. Employees come to feel valued by end users. Even though employees know intellectually that their contributions make a difference, gratitude from end users is a powerful reminder of the value of continued quality improvements and innovation.

Reverse branding creates EMPATHY. Employees develop a deeper understanding of end users problems and needs and thereby become more committed to helping them. Researchers have found that when product development teams had contact with customers, they were more likely to create offerings that exceeded projections for sales and market share.

Dean Hambleton

[email protected]

Social Media And Branding: The Benefits Of An Umbrella Brand

A salient fact about social media marketing is the fact that markets move so very fast. Social media creates great scale. The scale creates the great speed that we find in contemporary markets. The way that social media brands are created is that first a product is positioned. The scale of the market makes it evolve. This means that the product is repositioned. As the brand continues, the repositioning creates a new positioning.

The way that the early car industry was branded is an example. Two great giants of this era were Henry Ford of the Ford Motor Company and Billy Durant who created General Motors. Both understood that the original market would depend upon low price. Durant also felt that the low price should also have variant brands to target different groups. Henry thought that price was the key and he created a world class brand in the Model T. For a time, Henry’s bet was the correct one.

The market evolved overtime. As the decade of the 1910’s progressed a middle class developed. With more resources available, people began to want more than just a low price in a car. The variance of income created different targets for the car. This created the necessity for the car to be branded in different ways. Luckily, for GM, Billy Durant had created these different brands. In the General Motors model, Chevy was the entry level for low income people. Ponitac was the next level. This is for people who start a job, and start receiving early career promotions. For the mature mid career there is the Oldsmobile. For those people know on the fast track there is the Buick. Finally, for the people who have made it, there is the Cadillac.

I think the GM model is the model that modern social marketing should follow. Different income groups define their products in a different manner. The brands help them define themselves. This is the beginning of what is called the “umbrella” brand. This is several brands of the same product, under the roof of one company. It is this strategy that allowed General Motors to overcome a seemingly insurmountable lead by Ford in the 1920’s to become the pre-eminent brand in cars. What are the benefits to having an umbrella brand in relation to having just one big brand like the Model T.

As in the case of General Motors, a big benefit is MARKET GROWTH. There is strength in numbers. With many brands, like the GM family, there is constant engagement with the General Motors brand, instead of the singular General Motors “car”. As In the GM case, no one brand can control the entire market. This is the genius of Albert Sloan. It was Albert Sloan that has taught marketers the importance of targeting, segmenting, differentiation, and branding. This is in clear contrast to Mr. Ford’s assertion that you can have any color you want as long as it is black.

Multi brands PREVENT BRAND EXTENSION. In 1923, there were many car companies, most with one brand. By having multi brands, Mr. Sloan was able to consolidate the market and to dissuade the smaller struggling companies not to extend their brand and to get out of the market, allowing General Motors to concentrate on Ford.

Multi brands PROTECT THE BRAND IMAGE. Everyone knows that Chevy, Ponitac, Olds, Buick, and Cadillac were General Motor brands. Each of the cars contributed to the GM image. Ford’s singular brand in the Model T worked against Ford. Because it had only one brand, Mr. Sloan was able to portray the Model T as a brand “built by farmers for farmers”.

Dean Hambleton

[email protected]