–nor in parking lots or street addresses or user experiences. Brands have no tangible existence because they live solely in the hearts and minds of people, and nowhere else. Brands reside in the realm of opinion. At least, IMHO.
Oh sure, things like advertising messages and product design and word-of-mouth all affect brands, but only so far as they impact hearts and minds. And opinions.
By now, most of us recognize that opinions about brands can change very quickly, thanks to our socially-networked society. On the upside, there’s the previously mentioned Susan Doyle who leapt from unknown Scottish spinster to international sensation almost overnight. But at the other end of the spectrum, there’s the disgusting and totally unfair incident that arose around an unwitting North Carolina Domino’s Pizza store. To their credit, Domino’s Corporate did a good job in their attempt to address this issue in a timely manner, eyelines notwithstanding. But even the best-trained, most experienced brand managers don’t wake up anticipating they will be handling these types of quickly-fanned crises–there’s simply no precedent for this type of issue.
In a quicksilver media world like ours, we need to rethink the old silos that separate advertising and PR. Because by now it should be abundantly clear that the business of creating and reinforcing consumer opinion never sleeps.