by Anne Flanagan
Chapter One in a recently published book, “The Physics of Brand” by Aaron Keller, Renee Marino, and Dan Wallace, recounts the interesting origin and evolution of brands.
It states, “Brands were invented to replace face-to-face transactions between the customer and the craftsmen.” When goods made by craftsmen—barrels made by coopers, or shoes made by cobblers—began being mass produced and transported to broader geographic markets, the distance widened between producer and consumer.
Enter branding, which was a way for this more advanced production system to establish trust. Branding “filled the void in the lost relationship (a.k.a. experience) between buyer and seller.” In short, branding became “a container of trust.”
Decades passed, great inventions abounded, industry and commerce exploded, and mass-media brand advertising evolved to rule the day.
But, according to “The Physics of Brand,” “…the Mad Men of Madison Avenue eventually degraded the trust between brands and people.” Brands bombarded customers with more noise, more hype, and less authenticity.
Enter the Internet and the fragmentation of mass media. The customer gained more and more control—posting online opinions and ratings with brutal honesty—and influenced brand messaging like never before. Brands have had to respond with more than a hollow slogan and pretty picture; they have had to refocus on the customer and create an authentic, relevant, engaging experience.
In this new world where we can develop trusting relationships with real people anywhere, anytime through Internet platforms, we are essentially moving right back to making (virtual) face-to-face transactions with trusted partners.
Branding has come full circle.
Chapter One concludes with the authors’ own definition of branding that perfectly aligns with the customer experience phenomenon: “A brand is a vessel for meaning and trust, fueled by experiences.”
What authentic experiences will fuel your own brand in 2017? Our team would love to hear from you!