Attention brand managers: In case you haven’t yet gotten the memo, you now work for your social-media person.
That’s right. According to the social-media person who authored this gem — “Branding isn’t dead, but it’s no longer in your control” — your brand is her show, and she’s running it; although, she’s completely open-minded about it:
I get to be in charge of the social channels. No approval processes, no bottlenecks, no committees of people trying to make a tweet or a gif more ‘on brand’.
As Quick Draw McGraw would say, “Hold on thar, Baba Louie!”
Contemplation of this self-important nonsense puts me in mind of George Bernard Shaw. Such musing also recalls another legendary Irishman: Grandpa O’Brien. Grandpa used to love to tell the story of a double date on which he and his boyhood buddy, Louie Pierson (whom I knew as Dr. Pierson, a paper-route customer of mine in my own youth), had taken two young ladies. As Grandpa told it, it wasn’t long before Louie concluded his date was none too bright.
“May I ask you a question?” Louie inquired.
“You may,” the young lady replied.
“How old are you?”
“I’m 20,” she said.
“How is it possible,” Louie asked, “that someone could get so dumb in such a short time?”
I have no intentions of defending Louie’s crass conduct. (One has to hope his bedside manner was more decorous than his social manners.) But I do have to wonder from time to time how young people like our social-media friend come to their senses of certainty and entitlement.
What would lead her to think — let alone try to convince us — that she gets to be in charge of our brands? If she’s that disrespectful to us, how will she treat our brands? If she’s that dismissive of our personalities, with what kind of reverence will she present our brand personalities in social media? If she doesn’t understand the emotional connections that are the fundaments of brand loyalty, why would we turn her loose to feign emotion in a hypocritical attempt to cultivate that loyalty with derisive superficiality and sardonic transience?
Think about it: You have to possess a special breed of brazen, uninformed arrogance to make statements like these:
Brand ‘management’ is a complete farce anyway. Too many people think it means to use the right RGB code and kerning on the fonts and those that understand true branding have missed the memo that they lost control a long time ago.
And you have to brandish a peculiar strain of unvarnished cynicism to imagine you’ll find clients careless and thoughtless enough to let you treat their brands with irreverent impunity as if their brands stand for nothing more than arbitrary graphic conventions and random colors.
Here’s the deal, kids: Our brands are representations. They represent the people — the ideas, the sensibilities, the values, the convictions — that inform them. Our brands are expressions of our humanity. And that humanity can’t be effectively conveyed or meaningfully expressed, regardless of media, by people who don’t respect our humanity or the humanity of the people with whom we want our brands to connect emotionally.
The means by which our brands are represented — their icons, their colors, their fonts — are called brand conventions. They represent our standards. And only by adhering to our standards do we create our value.
No snide, disrespectful hack should be permitted to run roughshod over our brands in social media or any medium. And being cute does not make one credible.
The ostensible results of social media deserve to be taken with a grain of salt anyway.
Image by geralt, courtesy of pixabay.com.