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Score One for the Small Businesses: Brand and Social Media

Kristen Fowler Lindsey - Friday, September 12, 2008

I just attended an luncheon for my local marketing club, and the speaker was with a multi-national branding agency who talked about brand strategies for some huge, multi-national clients.

The talk was thought-provoking and on many counts had some really excellent points on developing a brand image that resonates with target customers. It also had loads of pretty pictures and logos and fonts to back up the brand that probably cost a gazillion dollars.

It was most interesting, though, to hear the answer to a question about how their branding process was impacted by the proliferation of social media and other Web 2.0 means for people to communicate. Her answer was that it is a place for brands to hear what customers have to say and respond quickly. That was it.

I followed up and asked if they felt that their process for developing a brand responded to consideration of all these new ways people were conversing about brands online, but the answer I got was that their client communication was the thing impacted by Web 2.0 tools, not target custoemr communication.

How can a huge company that helps organizations around the world with brand image not require that their process and thinking be proactively influenced by these new communication styles? How can an agency that is paid humongous gobs of money only be able to see Web 2.0 communication venues to be a place for reactive response for a brand?

I am still trying to grasp this, but my first thought is that this represents a real competitive advantage for smaller businesses who do not have astronomical budgets to afford branding agencies.

Can it not be argued that being brand focused AND proactively reaching out to online communities with a brand message can be more powerful than all the millions of dollars spent on branding and implementation by large companies? I am not saying it is easy, but to me it seems that smaller businesses have the agility and scale to do it more successfully and consistently.

What are your thoughts?

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