by: Idris Mootee

I remembered talking to a group of senior marketing executives two years ago, the topic was “Branding 2.0 Is to get social” and many were scratching their heads and weren't sure what I was referring to. To answer the question "what's social branding?” we need to understand what branding is?

People involved with a collectivity of brands so as to benefit from the meanings they add to their lives. People will look for signs to represent meanings even if we take brands away. If a brand does not have vital consumer meaning, may be it is not worthwhile investing in its leadership both financially and organizationally. So where do they get these meanings?

Where do these meaning comes from? Brands and consumers are interdependence, an attribute that is enhanced to the extent that brands are animated, connected, distributed, networked, humanized, individualized and socialized. (You can read more from my Advanced Brand Strategy Masterclass 2007 by clicking on the tag cloud, these pages are from my latest limited edition coffee table version of my 60-minute brand strategy book which has been updated and in its 4th edition. It will be published in multiple languages, you can read the whole book on my slideshare, but sorry download is not available).

Consumers demand more from brands and people online are seeking new ways to connect and be social. Social networks and media give testimony to human most basic desire to belong and to be part of a group(s), as we congregate around the things we are passionate about or want to associate with. Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media, we have the opportunity to re-establishing ourselves as the ultimate communicators, spreading the word across the geographical, cultural and political at unprecedented speed.  This is the globalization of meanings. It takes your brand with you.

Brand is not just visual images and tag lines, it is the collective emotional response to images and experiences. In other words, a brand is not defined by the product or service, but rather the person who uses it, talks about and engages other with it defines it. Mark Jacob does not define me, rather they are defined by me, they form part of my personal brand and mingle and mix with other brands (Hermes, Apple and Blackberry). Brands are not composed of the people who purchase their brands; rather people and communities are composed of the brands they use.

All broadcast businesses are in big trouble, and user-generated videos are just the beginning. There are more to come. The social casting of YouTube will evolve and, and in the process, so too will consumer behavior. Instead of passivity, the experience flow of tomorrow will be characterized by immediacy, flexibility, portability, permeability, fluidity, interactivity, mashability and ownerability (these are Morgan’s words). With the emergence and convergence of the mobile phone, the Internet and location-based-systems, consumers also have immediate access to co-workers, friends and family members, involvement and consumer connections.

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