Brand-building isn't about creating a social media page for people to follow. It's not about consistent posting. It's not about how many followers you have. Those are good to look at, but they serve little purpose when it comes to building a brand. Let's get back to basics.
The problem with businesses that want to build a brand
This article isn't about businesses being on Instagram. This article isn't about social media's ability to generate business. It's about brand-building.
If you're in the city, go outside and take a walk. If you see a cafe, a restaurant, or a relatively modern store, pull out your phone and see if you can find their social media. You’ll most likely find it.
Today, we live in a world where people are overloaded with information. With every tap and every scroll, new information is thrown at you. This has resulted in reduced attention spans, so it's becoming increasingly harder to reach out to people and move them to take action.
With every other business having an online presence, there are three things you have to think about.
- Why would anyone follow you?
- Of those that follow you, you'll be lucky if 3% of them engage with your content.
- Of those that engage with you, you'll be lucky if even a few of them are genuinely interested and actively following your brand.
So… where's the branding?
The problem is, I've seen businesses put so much time, effort, and money into growing their “online presence” on social media, and it brings them negligible results in terms of increasing their brand value. That's just not how branding works, and it's a major flaw in the mindset of businesses and business owners today.
What is branding?
To understand branding, we need to start by understanding what a brand is. A brand is essentially an identity. Just as you have an identity, and I have an identity, a brand is like an individual with its own identity.
Let's say you walk into a room and see two people – one's your friend, and the other is your enemy. Your friend will want to be around you, while your enemy won’t even want to be in the same room as you. It's the same with a brand.
If someone likes your brand, they will buy from it consistently. If someone doesn't like your brand, they'll stay away from it. They might even tell others how bad your brand is and discourage them from following it.
So what is branding really about? If you've followed along to this point, you already know what I'm going to say – branding is about building favorable impressions in the minds of your prospects and customers.
To build these favorable impressions, it’s not enough to talk the talk – you need to walk the walk too and make sure everyone knows it. When it comes to building a brand, actions speak louder than words, but you also need words to let people know about the actions you've taken.
1975 vs 2022 – Who does it better?
Take the famous example of Coke and Pepsi’s blind taste test. In 1975, Pepsi was confident about its product and put it to the test. Two white cups were set up in public places – one with Coke, and the other with Pepsi. Passersby were invited to try both and select the one they preferred. As it turned out, people preferred Pepsi over Coke.
Now, do you think this would be such a widely-known case study if Pepsi hadn't marketed the fact that they did this? In fact, it was their marketing that led to Coca-Cola formulating the New Coke.
The truth is, everything you believe about bigger brands is a belief that the brand has intentionally created within your mind. It's deliberate. You can decide what you want others to think of your brand, but you can't influence anyone's opinion without marketing it.
Businesses in 2022
Today, the marketing world is a lot more complex. There are a lot of choices, and attention spans are shrinking. The result is that it's harder than ever to influence people. Still, most businesses today lack an understanding of the importance of action in brand-building.
Now, as you’ve been reading this article, you've probably been thinking to yourself, “But we can educate people about our brand and market it on social media.” Yes, you can. The problem is, that's all many brands do – educate.
“Post consistently, and post about your business to become an authority on the subject, and people will follow you.” That’s the mindset of most businesses today. Unfortunately, this is an outdated approach and it doesn't work as well anymore. You might get followers over a period of time, but it's not going to be worth the effort that goes into it.
Most businesses today, as good as their brand positioning ideas may be, fail to take actions that prove their positioning to their audiences. They need to do something tangible that audiences can get behind.
Where social media comes in
Social media is good for spreading the word. It's good for building a community. It's good for a lot of things – but alone, it's not enough for branding. It's a tool that has a lot of potential in furthering your marketing interests, but it becomes a branding tool only when there's a tangible, actionable branding strategy behind it.
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