Don't Stay "On Message" Think Like a Human

dodo_birdA recent post by Chad Northrup at Chatterbox about LinkedIn being the “No Fun Social Network” recently got me thinking about many of the companies I have worked with that are clinging to the old school methodology of marketing by constantly staying on message and not seeing what is going on right now in the online world.

Years ago, staying on message was how you branded your business. So whether someone saw your newspaper ad, brochure, radio ad, TV spot, etc. it all had the same look, feel and message. Recognition through replication.

Now however things are changing. Branding through certain visual markers like colors, fonts, logo, etc. is still equally important but the message is different because people online want to engage and interact with your brand. They don’t want to get your mission statement delivered to them, they want to know about what interesting projects you are working on or how your product is going to help them personally. You need to have a conversation with your potential audience not deliver a soliloquy.

Given this seismic shift, you also need to change how you brand yourself and your business because the people behind the brand are taking center stage now. Your voice is now equally as important to your branding as your logo. Don’t handcuff your employee brand advocates – let your companies personalities shine!

Another pitfall companies fall into is being bland. I can’t tell you how many businesses I have met with and all they want to do is plug their same boring sales message into video format. Why? Do something wildly creative! Solve one of your most frequently asked questions or problems in a creative story. In every blog post, in every video or podcast you create there’s got to be emotion or opinion to trigger an action of some kind. Make interesting content that people want to read/view and if it’s REALLY interesting share with their network. No one is going to share your mission statement unless maybe you make it into a rap or something entertaining.

Creative thinking and authentic engagement will be what makes some brands more noticeable in the coming years…not how much money they dumped into traditional advertising. Small companies like Blendtec will be the household names of tomorrow because they are creating online content that people like to consume and be entertained by.

What about you? What do you think the future holds for branding?

6 thoughts on “Don't Stay "On Message" Think Like a Human

  1. Eric,

    i agree in principal and this is great advice for companies that are inclined to handcuff how employees talk about them– but I would fear that people will turn this into “no staying on-message.” That’s dangerous because a company that wants disparate employees to talk about them (which, in reality, should be any company), needs to foster consistent messaging.

    Guidelines vs. script, perhaps?

    • Hey Doug –

      I think many companies are handcuffing themselves by not being a little more flexible and human with their messaging. If all of their content online is just tweeting out or blasting their sales message mantra on Facebook…who ends up listening? I guess my point about the employees is to find the voices that are brand advocates for you and enable them to become stronger voices for you. Not every employee will have the skills or ability to be a brand advocate for you.

      As with any company including some sort of social media guidelines in their employee handbook or wiki should be standard practice (at least I think it should be at this point).

  2. Eric –

    I couldn’t agree more regarding your remarks about bland content. Doing something cutting edge just for the sake of doing it doesn’t help move the pill at all. A bland video will not entice engagement. In fact, you may miss an opportunity to engage with someone. But, you can take a bland subject and turn it into something engaging by creating a video. Audiovisual content affords a tremendous opportunity to turn something dull into something captivating. That’s what ultimately helps it drive engagement.

    • Thanks Jenn, that’s why I mentioned Blendtec. I think they are the perfect example of an otherwise fairly boring product that they took and made product demo videos that are incredibly interesting and entertaining.

  3. Good stuff Eric. This sentiment is exactly what prompted me to write about LinkedIn. Their network is for “professionals” and they need to maintain a certain sense of formality, etc., etc. Fine, I get that. But in the meantime other fairly bland companies are finding creative ways to inject some humor and personality into their marketing, and it’s winning them tangible points in the form of new sign-ups, loyalty, etc. Why let that opportunity pass you by?? And even if every employee is as bland as your image projects, you can hire experts to do this stuff for you!

    We’re at a point now where duplicating hot technology isn’t overly complex. It’s easy for a competitor to implement the same features you have and basically follow in your footsteps. I think the long-term winners will be the companies that are able to turn a simple user-provider relationship into a personal connection.

  4. I agree whole-heartedly that I have a more positive customer relationship with companies whose online representatives seem human, and integrate their personality and outside interests into their role as representative. I feel like I have an “in” just by knowing that they’re doing more than just reading a script or following their franchise three-ring binder (Snow Crash reference).

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