The Dark Side of Branding and Name Recognition
Once upon a time, we were told “Call me anything you want; just spell my name right.” Or “there is no such thing as bad publicity.”
Arrant nonsense, of course, although it has seeped into everyone’s consciousness. If that was true, companies wouldn’t spend untold millions on crisis management. If that was true, people and companies wouldn’t worry about their reputations. If that was true, libel and slander attorneys would be extinct.
Reputations matter. And in the marketplace, they can make the difference between success and failure. But reputations can be destroyed by more than poor products, by more than inept pricing, by more than terrible customer service.
In the age of the Internet, in the era of ever-expansive social media, in the apparent need to be present all the time, on as many platforms as possible, we can destroy our reputations ourselves.
Here are some simple truths to which we can all agree:
♦ Customers and prospects have 24/7 access to information.
♦ There is an ever-increasing store of information and opinion on the Net.
♦ We are continually being told to tweet, connect, blog, post, create “white papers,” and “engage” in discussions.
Now, let’s step back for a second and think about what that means for reputation management.
How many of the blogs, posts, tweets, white papers, and discussions that you’ve seen actually add to your knowledge, challenge your thinking, change your perspective, or make you want to reach out to the authors or companies that produced them?
How many of them seem to be a waste of time, are an obvious effort in self-promotion or a restatement of what everyone else is saying? It doesn’t take too long before we stop going to their sites, skip their tweets, avoid their discussions, ignore their blogs, does it?
Name recognition for negative reasons is worse than no name recognition at all. It is the dark side of branding. Customers and prospects have choices in how to spend their precious time. Name recognition for negative reasons means they choose not to spend it with you.
So how can marketing be most effective in managing our reputations? It’s really not that hard.
♦ Ignore the gurus of “content management” and SEO who insist that “quantity becomes quality.” Less is more. Don’t burden your potential audience with unending streams of material that doesn’t add value. If you have something to say, say it. Otherwise, silence is golden.
♦ Presumably, people reading your materials, following your posts, going to your Web site do so because there is an interest. Satisfy their interest in your insights, products, or services with down-to-earth information they can use, benefits they can understand, rather than weighing them down with what you want to say or an attempt to only satisfy SEO robots.
♦ Understand that the right audience is more important to your business than just having a large audience. Ignore the calls to vastly increase your followers on Twitter, your likes on Facebook, your connections on LinkedIn and Google +, etc. Concentrate your efforts on adding value to the discussions in your industry and market space. The right audience will follow. And have some patience. Building the right audience doesn’t happen overnight.
We all know that branding and name recognition are critically important for marketplace success. But you want to be remembered for the right reasons. Branding and name recognition that make people ignore or avoid you will not improve your revenues. Reputation management matters.