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A brand is a series of micro-interactions

July 9, 2013

Last week, Nigel Hollis wrote that building a brand is like dancing. In dancing, the man leads, but he can react and change depending on feedback from the woman. Hollis wrote:

“Brands need to be in tune with their consumer and lead them to a positive outcome, and not just respond to their stated needs. Equally, for any brand building effort to be successful, the consumer needs to respond positively. They have to be able to respond, not be locked into a pattern of behavior or a contractual relationship that prevents them from doing so. And they have to be willing to respond, the new experience must be attractive to them.”

I agree. Good brands lead people. I added a comment to the post suggesting that too many marketers put too much reliance on the cues coming from customers. Indeed, the feedback is immense, growing, and could result in brand powerlessness. Almost a brands version of the Paradox of Choice. Too many cues, not enough leading.

I wrote:

“This feedback is a micro-interaction – a Facebook like, a comment on a blog, etc. Immense amounts of feedback that could add up to the correct feedback for initiating the dance, but also could take you down the wrong road, doing the wrong moves. Social media feedback comes from a certain kind of customer – perhaps even the kind that isn’t easily led.”

From the University point of view:

If a student wants to look at a University, there are many, many places to get information. They can look at online review sites like College Confidential or jump right to native .edu’s, to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.

In the latter instances, content is created by the University. In the former example, people are creating noise that disrupts the dance. Our job as marketers is to attempt to communicate the instructions over the noise.

Which brings me to a couple of observations about the Internet and brands. The very grumpy Ad Contrarian has challenged the world to think of a brand that grew up online. He doesn’t mean Google or Facebook, he means something in the real world that was born online. A new Starbucks or Southwest.

I wonder if the internet is too noisy to launch a brand? I wonder if the noise from all the various places out there drown out the dance steps. The only place the dance really works is in traditional media, where the instructions aren’t fighting for attention.

Or perhaps the device in our hand while we watch TV or listen to the radio will mean that all instructions in the dance will fall on deaf ears.

Perhaps it requires some sincere and planned obedience to the message. Social media can still be a distraction, but it can’t be the thing that leads.

What do you think? did I take the dance too far?

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