With shows like Mad Men romanticizing the lifestyle of the ad industry, brands and the processes that go into creating them have been pushed to the forefront of pop culture. Even more telling of our current infatuation with brands is the growth of brand loyalist generations in millenials, Gen Y and Gen Z. Check Instagram’s top photos and you’re bound to find dozens of consumers showing-off the latest brand name clothes, shoes, and fashion accessories to thousands of followers. Brands are everywhere. They exist to please and serve us. But, that leaves me wondering: is a brand only what the Mad Men tell us it is? Or is it something more? And, who actually owns a brand?
A company’s brand: the look, feel, and message it conveys, has always been essential to its overall success. But, what is it that takes a traditionally “good looking” brand and elevates it to something more? And what is it that makes some theoretically great looking brands fail so miserably? The answer: the brand users.
Tim Hill, in Branding Magazine, describes this notion as the definitive concept of the third age of branding. He says, “This third age of branding puts the human firmly front and centre in determining a brand’s real-time equity. We are the people that enable those global superbrands to shine, and we allow those who fail to deliver to fall into irrelevance.”
Along the same lines, in his definitive novel The Brand Gap, Marty Neumeiers goes on to dispel some important myths about what current-day branding is not, and why business owners should pay particular attention to their end users.