“Your brand is more than a logo and a tagline.” Brand developers have been repeating this statement since advertising emerged in the 1950s. Today we know that a consumer’s interaction is no longer limited to billboards and televisions spots, and of course, we all know the Internet changed the reach and frequency of advertising. But some professionals still seem to ignore the fact that the rise of social media has exponentially expanded advertising’s reach.
Thanks to social media and the rapidly growing use of mobile devices, people now have a platform from which to broadcast their opinions on everything from the daily lunch special to your customer service. Depending on a user’s range, one impression of your company can reverberate to hundreds, thousands or even millions of people. During last year’s Super Bowl, Oreo’s blackout-inspired tweet, "you can still dunk in the dark," was retweeted more than 15,000 times in an hour. Several months later, Lululemon experienced the downside of social media when a controversial remark from their CEO went viral, engulfing them in a firestorm of negativity. With that kind of potential for success or failure, it’s more important than ever for you to shape public opinion personally and positively.
Outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and others are examples of social media that allow you to create ongoing content that’s relevant to consumers on a personal level. In the old days, brands had to talk “at” their target markets. Now you can talk “with” them, follow their opinions and they yours. Current events and trending topics provide avenues for companies to connect in ways that are relevant to people’s everyday lives. Connections that are personal and authentic engage the consumer and draw them into your brand instead of allowing them to skip past it. By utilizing these outlets, you gain a huge edge on businesses that remain stuck simply telling folks what to buy. You extend your brand’s reach.
In order to become more active in more places though, you must cement your brand character firmly in place. Times will continue to change, and so will the resources available to you. Keep pace with these changes with consistency in tone and messaging. By clearly outlining who you are as a company, you can avoid accidentally fragmenting or mixing your message. Your brand should stay focused even as you disseminate it through multiple sources. Adjust it subtly, only where needed, to speak to each audience in their own world.
Now we realize that extending your reach into a constantly changing landscape is a daunting task. But for marketers across the globe, the multifaceted communication of a singular brand identity is an enormous opportunity. There are pitfalls to be sure, but with careful management and relevant content, 2014 can be a great place to expand your brand’s reach.