Branding is a powerful way to define your company in a marketplace. While I prefer Seth Godin’s definition of a brand, the traditional definition is “a type of product manufactured by a particular company under a particular name.” Boring, I agree. To me, a brand is much more than a company or product name; it’s everything that is implied by the purchase process and continues on through to product results and performance. There can also be personal brands and company brands. Things that determine your brand strategy might include: Who is your customer? What do they respond to? How does your brand meet their need? Are you customer focused? What voice do you use when communicating with your target customer? How do you convey your brand? What does your eCommerce site, physical store or catalog say about your brand? What does your staff say about your brand? Are your emails personalized? Do you listen to feedback from your customer?
Corporate brand managers are typically responsible for defining many of these things and for managing some of the finer details in order to maintain a positive brand image. Yet, as time goes on, we see that it’s not the brand manager who manages the brand; but the consumers who determine what a brand stands for. Product marketers or merchandisers may also have more immediate impact on branding today than a corporate brand manager.
eCommerce merchandisers are ultimately responsible for determining how the brand appears on an eCommerce site. What merchandise to order more of, less of, what styles are hot and which scarf goes with which belt. At the same time, social marketers are establishing relationships and dialogue with customers through Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. So, the question becomes, are marketers really brand managers? Or are consumers the ones who truly define the brand?