Last night we had the pleasure of attending our first Ottawa Search & Digital Marketing Meetup. We're not technically digital marketers, but as PR practitioners we need to at least know a little bit about a lot of different things. As the host, Stephen McGill, so graciously recollected, the way we worded it was that "we are in public relations, but have a soft spot for branding."
Ever hear someone speak and internally freak out (or jump for joy) because you feel like they are reading your mind? That's what we experienced last night. Although we do have lots of love for branding, we never really considered ourselves experts per se, but had some ideas about how we think things should work, and every point McGill made validated our way of thinking. Walking out of the event, I felt inspired, validated and kind of a like a savvy superhero; excited/ready to tackle any branding issue a client can throw at me.
McGill was an engaged speaker, quick with a pun on pop culture and clearly a subject matter expert in his field. Even his PowerPoint had spectacular branding, and let's face it, that's hard to accomplish with PowerPoint. The icing on the cake was that he reiterated almost every point with an appropriate quote. We may have a soft spot for branding, but we are hopeless suckers for a good quote.
Without further ado, here are what we found to be the four main takeaways:
1) Considering how on trend branding is these days, there aren't many people who really understand it and know what they are talking about.
Branding is the new black. Everyone and their sister are apparently branding experts these days, and at first glance it may be difficult to differentiate between the two. A branding expert should understand that it isn't only about the logo and color palette, although that does play a major part. Many people play it up because its the "fun part", but really, a good logo is a necessary building block that's followed by a very long list of elements that contribute to successful branding.
2) Branding is about the experience, how you make people feel.
Although the digital age is redefining every industry, this could mean that the platforms we use for branding change, but the concept beyond it doesn't necessarily. Branding always has been, and always will be, about connecting with the people and the experience they have with your brand.
Let's throw in a quote for good measure: "You cannot NOT have a user experience." Lou Carbone
3) Branding and marketing are not synonymous.
More brilliant quotes demonstrating this perfectly:
"Brands are built on what people are saying about you, not what you're saying about yourself." Guy Kawasaki
"Your brand is what people say about you when youre not in the room." Jeff Bezos
This is precisely why branding and public relations are so interconnected and important. Branding is basically your reputation and how the public views you, public relations is about relationship and reputation management. Coincidence? I think not. Marketing is telling people how to view your brand, whether they actually view it in that desired light is a whole another ball game. This is where branding steps in.
4) Branding = morals.
Have you ever heard of a brand promise? If you haven't, you should. Every great brand needs to have a brand promise that communicates to their audience what they are about. This promise tells the public what they can expect from this brand, and it is crucial to never break this brand promise. If you can't get behind your own brand's promise, why should other people?
Huge thank you to Stephen McGill of McGill Buckley, The Code Factory and WebFuel for the venue, fotos and great event.
What else would you add to our list? What does branding mean to you and your business?