Opinion

Listening to the evolution of your brand

‘Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room’ – Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.

If this is true, are we able to listen whilst being out of the room?

I do believe that there is a good deal of truth in that quote which is famously attributed to Jeff Bezos. However, I don’t think that a brand is quite as simple as that. It is true that a good deal of what makes up a brand is what is said by people to other people, but this quote is omitting quite a considerable part of a brand and that is the communication between a business and people. Although the world is changing, lets not discount the two-way communication in which businesses engage just yet.

That said, what is said about you when you’re not in the room does have a big influence on the shaping and reshaping of your brand. It always has done. As a simple example, think of those days as a child when you would be discussing your experiences of maybe a jeans brand such as Levi’s or Lee or Wrangler. These discussions with friends about the relative merits and experiences of different jeans you might own will have added to the story you hold about that brand, and begin to reshape the brand itself to you.

The difference in this digital age is that the ‘room’ that Jeff Bezos talks about is essentially the whole world. The internet is reshaping how we interact, and when considering this in terms of ‘what people say’ there are a few major points to remember:

• people don’t need to be in the same room (or city, country, continent) to be heard by others. The geographical boundaries have been minimised.

• people don’t need to be listening right now. What people say on social media, blogs, etc, is there to be read for as long as it remains online.

Those comments you might have once made to your friends about your jeans, which will have shaped the brand to them, are now able to be heard by anyone with the technology to allow them, at any time in the future.

 

So the issue for businesses now is that the room is the size of the world, and what is said can be heard/read at any point in the future (assuming it is still online). That is a serious increase in volume for people to be speaking at.

With a good proportion of a brand being co-created by what people are saying, businesses need to be listening. If you’re not hearing the conversation, then leading your brand into more valuable relationships with people is going to be pretty difficult. Of course, you can’t be everywhere and listening to everyone, but there are tools available which can help you hear what is being said, acting as a filter for you to hear the most relevant content.

A few years back tools like this might well have been specifically aimed at marketers, pr or social media specialists who wanted to track specific campaigns and subsequent metrics. However, I believe that these tools can develop into a very important component for monitoring the conversations that are, in part, evolving a brand. They are often used for specifically listening and reacting to direct things said, such as responding to negative tweets with a solution to a problem, but i think that tools such as these can be used much more strategically than that in a much more qualitative way.

 

Getting as much relevant and current content into how a brand is developing can lead to more insightful and informed leadership of the brand, helping to lead it in the desired direction from a point of knowledge.

The point isn’t that the data will make decisions for you on the brand and make your life easier. The point is that the data will mean that you are better informed, and can derive insights that will help you develop the brand in order to better engage people.

We are always looking into tools that will monitor and track brand, and are currently looking at Brandwatch, Brand24 and a brand tracking tool from Cision. If you know of any other tools then we would love to hear about them.

Image © Britt Reints

 

Industry expert

Digital marketers, lend me your ears

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