This confuses me.
To me, branding is the backbone of social media. Social media without branding is another word for chaos.
At its simplest, a brand is a symbol that can come in many forms: a logo, a name, a color..
But the brand symbol is merely shorthand for an important and unique set of associations and expectations.
Facebook, Apple, Google and Zappos are all good examples of clearly defined brands.
But a brand doesn’t have to be a company. It can be a person, too. Oprah Winfrey. Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman and Johnny Depp are all good examples of ‘people’brands.
Even countries are brands. France is a brand. So is Australia or Sweden.
Each of these brands are linked with a set of associations. Each stand for certain values, principles and qualities. Each engender emotions.
The word ‘brand’ derives from the old Norse word BRANDR which means to burn.
The first brand names date from the 16th century. To distinguish one whisky from another, whisky distillers burned their name on top of each barrel. On ranches in the U.S., brands were famously ‘burned’ onto the side of the livestock.
A brand means to burn, to etch an image, to make a permanent impression in the minds and hearts of your customers, prospects and community.
Without knowing who you are as a brand, you will be absolutely lost in social media.
You won’t know what your conversations should be, who you should talk to, what is appropriate and what isn’t.
Some people/companies just intuitively know what their brand stands for. For others it is more difficult and need help at understanding who they are.
In any event, be sure to get it right. Be sure you understand the very unique set of associations that belong to you or your company before you start walking down social media lane.
If you don’t, you will most surely fail in a Web 2.0 world which puts a high premium on authenticity and consistency.