Brand Equity and Social Media: An Opossum’s Tale

Imagine a desert island occupied by no more than twenty people.  They are living in their own little village.  Over time, one of the inhabitants finds that their skill at tanning opossum skins is more and more valued, so others are willing to bring fish and breadfruits to the tanner.  Over time, the tanner has a business. He’s literally raking in the clams.

The enterprise grows – perhaps the proprietor ends up hiring other villagers to join in the labor, or even his own family.  A strategy is developed to grow – perhaps to bring the tanned opossum skins to other islands.

The man’s purpose is to make a living, to increase his wealth. It’s a very base purpose to have a business, but it’s his purpose, never the less.

Over time, the business world has grown – there are colleges for business, and magazines, and clubs, and all sorts of thinking going on around the idea of business.  The thinkers come to the conclusion that a purpose like “increasing wealth” is just too primal – and gee, why should the customers care about your becoming more wealthy or not. They like your opossum skins.

The world of business has matured – and those that adopt greater purpose in what they do can grow beyond the simple selling of commodities – they begin to trade in the realm of greater purpose. They develop brands – and those brands begin to take on more meaning than a name or logo.

It’s called brand equity.  What is brand equity?  It is when people identify with brands, and are willing to pay a premium, or be more loyal. Either way, the business that has a brand creates value where there was none before. They create a whole that is worth more than the constituent parts. There is value there beyond the value of the factories, the desks, and the contracts in place.

In order for an organization to define brand equity, it must possess a culture that supports that brand – and underlying culture is a set of shared values. Values, vision, purpose – all of those big organizational development words – really are important after all. Sum it all up into a special spark of magic, and I call it the Brand’s Passion.  The organization still exists to create wealth, but all of that other stuff has grown to a point where it has taken on its own life.

Fast Forward – to Social Media

Now Opossum Skin Tanners Inc has a Facebook page, a Twitter account, – even a Pinterest board.

This is their big opportunity to focus on their Brand Passion. The beautiful thing is, social media and Brand Passion go together like grits and butter, or eggs and salt. (If that’s not in your dietary taste, insert your own things that go amazingly together).

People are happy to connect with you in that playground on shared passions. If you start to talk about your products, or your Unique Selling Points, you’re just going to lose them.

Check out Coca-Cola’s Pinterest board. It is an example of the company actively managing brand equity with social media. Sure, plenty of the images have a bottle of coke in them – but the primary themes are things like, “be together,” “be active,” “be giving,” and “keep discovering.” We all love being together, and being active, and being caring.  We’ll forgive the images of cola bottles.

In the process, Coca-Cola Company is increasing the value of their brand, thereby creating brand equity, by celebrating the underlying passion of the brand. They have succeeded in building a culture, with values, purpose, and vision.

Making money is important – we have to pay the electric bill. But it can’t be the main reason for being in business, and it most certainly can’t be the driving force of social media communications.

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

6 comments on “Brand Equity and Social Media: An Opossum’s Tale

BruceSallan

So Ric, where can I buy one of your skins? I’m in Vancouver right now and it’s sort of chilly…


    RicDragon

     @BruceSallan Thought you guys went for the castor pelts up there?


Steve Birkett

With the almost pathological focus of some firms on bottom lines for the next quarter, though, brand equity has to face off against short termism and cost-cutting. Do you see organizations with this narrow focus failing as a result, or can you foresee a route of transition to more long term thinking, for the health of the brand? 


    RicDragon

     @Steve Birkett There are a couple of issues here – the first is not just within social media, but in all transactions. If a sales person calls me up, with her biggest concern being her numbers for the quarter, she’s not going to do a good job of thinking about MY concerns. She’s going to fail miserably. The same is true in social media, too – if you’re leading your communications with your own low-level needs (on the Maslow’s hierarchy) – you’re going to communicate selfishness and lack of concern for your community. That type of communication is anathema on social. Can you fake it? maybe. 
     
    SO – since social has been fundamentally changing the nature of business communications, orgs that aren’t leading from a higher purpose are going to flop. 


Bernicehneal

Nowadays, everyone is talking about the importance of social media in their Internet marketing campaign. If you are not doing it, you are simply falling behind because rest assured that your competitor is. But what exactly do you want in your social media marketing campaign? And where do you start?


Bernicehneal

Nowadays, everyone is talking about the importance of social media in their Internet marketing campaign. If you are not doing it, you are simply falling behind because rest assured that your competitor is. But what exactly do you want in your social media marketing campaign? And where do you start?For more information http://www.socialinkmedia.com