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Jul 5 / Viji Iyer

Do you have the green thumb to grow your company’s brand?

Copyright Photo by @ShekharKalyanam

When a consumer walks into a store with the intention of buying let’s say – coffee, and stares at an aisle stocked with a dozen different makes.  What do you think is running in her head when she reaches out and chooses that particular one and adds it to her cart? I find that making that choice today is almost a herculean task. Way too many options! It’s like going in and being asked to choose the precise shade of green you’d like to paint your walls with. At least that’s how I see most of the products today – as subtle shades of green.

Point I’m trying to make is businesses today are very much at par in being technologically savvy and in-tune with what their competition has to offer, and matching that. What that translates into for customers is a whole array of products that look pretty identical in their features and capabilities. So going back to my original question, how do you think she chose one type of coffee over the other? It was quite simply the brand she preferred.

So what constitutes the brand? I see it as the aura, the vibe, the sentiments attached and basically the essence of your product that emerges which forms to be the differentiator! In traditional marketing, it’s all about getting the 4 P’s in the perfect proportion – Product, Price, Place and Promotion. There is a lot of planning, strategy, research, science and advertising amongst other things that is involved in the making of a company’s brand image.

It’s dealt with strategically, scientifically and purposefully, in a kind of ‘causal relationship’ between the initiators within the company and their external audience. This all happens in a streamlined and structured fashion, feeding the external audience with the finished product in the form of the ‘agreed upon’ image, identity and messaging the company would like its audience to accept as the brand.

While this model still works in several cases, we have been witnessing a rising trend in how brands are being created and perceived lately. Like the advent of spring, social media has infused a new life into how a brand is born and defined today. People are no longer simply accepting this definition of a brand that is presented to them like a perfectly packaged shining trophy that they can only admire, but not touch. They are more interested in getting up close and personal with it even if it means getting your fingerprints all over it.

Brands are no longer produced in a sterile, climate controlled environment.  With the explosion of social media the sheer definition of – ‘what is a brand?’ has evolved and now grown organically.

The users are no longer looking for a picture perfect image because that seems sterile and made-up. For companies it’s about being more vulnerable not necessarily in a negative opportunistic kind of way but appearing more real, approachable and accessible to its audience. The digital age has shifted the paradigm from a funnel type communication, to a much more intertwined and overlapping model. One where each of the factors: be it the opinion of your competitors, support from your partners, the chatter from your user communities, the online product reviews, or the strategic press releases and marketing campaigns, all infuse with one another influencing the brand image today!

Today’s social media has given each of us a voice that collectively determines what morphs into a company’s brand image and identity. Brand has become this multi-faceted and multi-dimensional entity today that has the colors and flavors of numerous stakeholders.

The onus lies on the companies to not fight or defy this flow but to embrace it and cultivate it by truly building an empire targeted towards your customer centric needs and solutions. This is when you stop ‘talking over’ but start truly ‘engaging with’ your audience.  So do you believe you have that green thumb?

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