Building Brands With Small Talk

Back in the day, brand building fell under the province of big television production. You cast some people whose face held light particularly well, spent a few weeks shooting the golden hours of dawn and dusk, then set them all into motion around an inspirational, major-chord track that built to a stirring conclusion. The client beamed, viewers nodded and everyone felt good.

The only issue around that kind of branding was ROI. Did it really work? Did positive feelings really mean that much to brand health, especially given the cost?

Often, the answer was yes. Big companies with global issues need people to feel positively about their presence and initiatives. Public opinion sways policy and markets.

But those kinds of messages rarely translated to say, a stick of gum or a box of cereal. That’s where today’s social media can step in: modern PR that starts online conversations and dialogue is the logical evolution of old-style brand building. Today’s social creates positive opinions around brands through direct engagement and charm.

In many ways, it is closely akin to cocktail party chatter. It’s always nice to meet someone who is easy to talk to, who has interesting things to say and draws you into the conversation.

Dennis Ryan, Olson, Advertising

Those same principles apply to social brand building: it’s less about getting you to try a yogurt right now and more about building positive inclinations to the brand that will drive sales and insure good feelings down the road. The party ends and you walk away with a favorable impression.

Of course, not everyone is skilled at this kind of thing, at keeping things light and airy and shared. Too often, immediate brand needs supercede respecting the proper tenor of the forum. That leads to, well, social awkwardness. Which is pretty much the opposite of social brand building.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

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