Don't Be Boring: Brand Reinforcement vs Brand Building
“Is anyone else getting bored with Facebook?” posted an avid Facebooking friend of mine recently, triggering responses including “FB needs a blood transfusion,” “it’s been too depressing of late” and “too big, too invasive, and now too ‘commercial.’” Others chimed in positively to this tiny slice of the conversation, but it’s a salient question to ask of all social and other media channels in play today, along with the effectiveness of the content delivered via those channels. Much depends, of course, on where you are in your branding cycle.
McDonald’s may have its dietary and perhaps cultural detractors, but measured by its annual sales, stock ticker and shareholder returns, few people are bored with the fast food giant. With more than 33,000 locations worldwide, the company (I learned this from its Facebook page) serves 68 million people in 119 countries every day.
“Why does McDonald’s advertise so much?” one of my kids asked me recently. “To plant those golden arches indelibly into your consciousness” was my reply, quickly translating this to the more digestible “so that you never forget about them, and think of them first when you are hungry or in the car.”
Seventy-two years after brothers Mac and Dick McDonald opened their first burger joint, the company sustains and reinforces its near global omniscience with as consummate a branding program as you’ll find anywhere, Facebook and other social media channels comfortably included.
And few brands can master the big occasion as well as McDonald’s, which has already won gold at the upcoming London 2012 Olympics by building its largest restaurant ever in the heart of Olympic Park. If the perennial pursuit and priority of marketers is to captivate consumer attention, then opening a 32,000-square-foot, 1,500-seat venue at a global event watched and talked about by billions should do the trick.
Brand-wise, though, that’s just extra sauce on an already well-constructed sandwich—as long as McDonald’s serves the marketing content consumers have come to expect, the brand will thrive.
If you are building a brand from scratch or taking your brand to the next level, however, there are challenges before you even get started. There is the persistent threat of pre-bored consumers, as they expend one medium, overload themselves in too many channels at once, or dance from one content source to the next. There is also the ephemeral, transitory nature of content itself.
Naturally, you want to tell an engaging story, and depending on your marketplace, an exciting one—no marketer, presumably, wants to be boring. With content super-abundantly, exponentially flowing out and among so many channels today, though, establishing a meaningful purchase with consumers, no matter how attractive the content, is a strategic challenge that brands must master.
Jeff Heilman covers business, marketing, law and travel for a range of custom and trade publications. Also an award-winning photographer and copywriter, he ghostwrote Courageous Counsel, a book on the history of women general counsel in the Fortune 500, published September 2011.