Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Branding without Bullshit: Building Social Media Proof Brands

Part 1: Take Aways

SxSW: 2 pm, Friday, March 9, 2012

From the start I was skeptical. The moderator opened by claiming “Austin is the home of authentic.” I actually laughed out loud. Austin is certainly the home of bullshit, but it is without a doubt the most un-authentic place I’ve ever visited.

Then she proceeded to open the panel with the question: how do you define authentic? Not surprisingly the answers were pretty straightforward. I have a dictionary thanks.

Moderator aside, the session was actually really great. We heard from four panelists who represented Yeti Coolers, the Alamo Drafthouse, Shiner and more. The panelists discussed the brands they represented and how they work to both listen and respond to social feedback while remaining true to their brands and the brands’ stories.

Panelist Bobby Johns, made the excellent point: “Don’t talk about how cool you are. Just be cool. Once you talk about it, you’re not cool anymore.” (Take note, Austin.) That’s not to say of course, that you don’t want other people talking about how cool you are. That’s awesome, but leave that work to your fans.

But what about when they aren’t fans? Johns also advised, “Weed out the bullshit that comes at you through social media. Don’t pander to the customer if it is not true to your brand.” The group talked about acknowledging negative comments and off-brand suggestions, but knowing your brand and resisting a public push to be something you’re not. That’s one way brands lose their authenticity.

The session focused on maintaining your authenticity. It can be easy to lose it, especially in today’s social media world. The panel ended on this question: “Can you bring it back once a brand has lost authenticity?” What brands do you think are “unauthentic” and have you ever seen a brand come back from it?


Justin Fortney said...

Hey, great blog! I was reading today about how some of the bigger organic food brands are losing their street cred because their production methods have either turned into something that doesn't reflect their original ethic, or maybe they pushed a brand they couldn't really live up to.

BonnieAnn said...

One of the panelist for this session actually worked for Whole Foods back when it was a smaller local chain. I got the impression part of the reason he moved on was because the culture had changed so much as the business grew. He said the culture wasn't scalable. By store 250 it wasn't the same place anymore.