Socially Made: Branding is about the Adjectives

Throughout 2011, Make Me Social will publish Socially Made, a review of social media’s continued evolution in both influence and commentary.

Good branding brings adjectives to the front of a person’s mind. Great branding gives new definition to already existing words (think anyone still thinks of a “tweet” as a sound a bird makes?).

This is what came to mind as I was driving through Delaware and passed a sign that said “Odessa”. Now, I’m not sure what type of place Odessa, Delaware really is, but when I passed that sign on Route 13, the first thing I thought of was: “Mo-Jo!!!!” (fans of the book Friday Night Lights know what I’m talking about). This is brand recognition at its best, and the type that businesses work hard to try to generate.

Branding is about successfully navigating that analogy section of the SATs and being able to be related to a thought, sentiment, description, opinion or even just a word either through phrases or images. However, branding happens even when no effort is made, and if you don’t take the effort to create the philosophy for your brand, perhaps that lack of enthusiasm IS your brand philosophy.

The concepts behind branding have all been discussed before, and have been put into hyperdrive due to techniques in utilizing new marketing forms like social media’s ability to reach and persuade:

  • Creativity – It has to be eye and ear catching (and if possible, try to catch the other senses as well)
  • Consistency – There is a reason the simple phrase, “Yes, we can!” is a associated with President Obama. It is because he made it a mantra amongst his base. Consistency is an example of  something that has become a lot easier due to social media (as far as mechanisms to share your message) but also a lot harder (one more channel to make sure your message is properly represented).
  • Authenticity – Saying or portraying you are about something usually only works if you are actually about that something. Many have felt the “Yes, we can!” line has not been lived up to, causing to be a punchline more than a mantra. So in the brainstorming session into creating your brand, and subsequent brainstorming sessions, make sure the messages you use actually fit (and aren’t being tossed around just cause they sound good).

Beyond adjectives, brands are also about connotation. Over the past week, we saw the connotation associated with several brands completely change,with Penn State and Texas Governor Rick Perry being the two most notable. Once that connotation changes, you either work towards fixing it (Penn State made major personnel changes and is investing in a public relations campaign to start the process of regaining their reputation)…

….or work within it (after failing to name the federal agencies he needed to in the Republican debate, Rick Perry goes on David Letterman and jokes about his public blunder).

In both these cases, despite the drastic differences in these situations, social media has been utilized in regaining the connotation both these brands want.

So, throughout the next couple days, don’t think about brands and what words come to mind (we already do that every day), think about words and what brands come to mind related to them. Those are the ones you will want to learn from.


Greg Morgan is Communications and Content Director for Make Me Social, a social media agency that develops customized social media strategies for businesses. With experience in industries ranging from sports to state government, Greg focuses in crafting messages for all types of clients in an effort to perfect what he calls “versatile communications.” Born and raised in West Hartford, Connecticut, he remains a loyal UConn Husky fan, despite now residing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.


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