ATTENTION: Marketing Has Been Re-Branded!

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Most marketers preach about how a product’s brand is it’s most valuable asset. As for myself, I can only agree with that philosophy to a small degree.

Yes, a strong brand gives consumers a way to identify your product. Yes, a strong brand helps buyers make quicker decisions on which product to buy when faced with an assortment of choices. Yes, a strong brand creates more sales, due to shoppers leaning towards the products the rest of the world is buying.

…Yes, a strong brand is valuable for a number of reasons; but don’t these rationales all seem to be quite superficial? Shouldn’t we buy products for reasons that exist outside of what a manipulative marketer dishes to us? The most rewarding purchaces are made when there is an emotional connnection towards the soulful qualities of a product. Do you remember when you bought that sweet Apple computer? …I bet you’ve spent many a night bonding with that machine like it was your most intimate lover. You’d cry if it crashed – I know you would!

A brand is often built upon consumer perceptions, instead of truths. It’s time to start creating our businesses with more quality in mind, and not as much psychology. If businesses continue to create below average products, and hire above average marketers to manufacture their larger than life celebrity, the marketplace is going to be flooded with well-crafted brands that are attached to substandard merchandise. It’s time for marketers to join forces with the research and development team, and begin formulating superior devices that also emotionally connect with its users.

This is why I’m pushing for a new marketing movement – A movement that involves accumulating sales via strategies that are less-dependant upon brands, and more dependant on the creation of emotion-filled relationships between products and consumers. Such a relationship can be developed when a product’s nuts and bolts are valued for their true quality, and its personality (brand) is also emotionally appealing.

I call this marketing principle that is based upon relationship building…

“BONDING”

Yes! Welcome to a new age in marketing where we focus most of our attention NOT on branding, but on…

“BONDING”

Bonding is the new branding. Marketers will no longer see branding at the top of the marketing pyramid; it will fall just below the top of the mountain where the most important element of a product exists… the bond it has with its customers.

Websters, go ahead and add this definition to the term “Bond” in the next edition of your dictionary…

(bond noun) / (bonding verb) – 1. A marketing principle in which an emotional relationship is built between a product and its customers.

People form meaningful relationships (bonds) with each other based upon qualities that are emotionally attractive. For someone to truly bond with you, you must be appealing both above and below the surface of your overall persona. Why can’t this same principle be applied to the person/product connection? All businesses must do to effectively bond their products is to simply develop widgets with both inner-quality and personality in mind. Once the product is strategically bonded, with both emotional elements in place, a person will want to form an long-lasting relationship with it.

This concept of bonding makes sense as the next step in the progression of marketing philosophy. Actually, marketing via bonding might be last possible innovation we will ever see as marketers. Our next marketing mission is to improve the operations of this new Art of Bonding. This exciting marketing movement is a call to all businesspeople to start brainstorming new ways to create stronger bonds between your customers and the products you sell. So if you’re feeling tapped out on new ideas to enhance your product’s brand, it’s time to get excited about marketing again. You have a new program to implement… your business’ bonding strategy.

Make sure to stay tuned to Small Business Branding because I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve about how you can improve your Small Business Bonding.

Wishing you continued success…


bizMAVERICK

Brad Williamson

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Comments

  1. Danielle… I’m blushing. Thanks for the great compliment.

    There are just too many MONSTER brands out there that are pumping out less-than-stellar products, and I’m tired of watching them be so damn successful at it. I don’t want to buy into brands anymore – I want to buy into companies that create “bonds” with their consumers.

    Touch my heart, and I’ll touch your products.

    bizMAVERICK…
    Brad Williamson

  2. The world is over populated with brand creators because they think branding is cool and more important, they haven’t a clue about how to create bonding. The latter, as you suggest, has more to do with the business (actually creating products and services people will want to buy) than with art, and the brand guys haven’t a clue about business.

    Lots of companies with embarrassing junk they call products(think of Ford) brand with customers because they spend a zillion dollars to get the name out there. But bond with customers…Ford hasn’t accomplished that for years. Get people to meet the bonding test and you have a Starbucks. Bravo!
    Mark Stevens
    CEO http://www.MSCO.com
    Check out my book, Your Marketing Sucks

  3. Thanks for the interesting post Brad.

    I personally like the idea. I am more involved in the software sector myself but i still think these ideals would prove valuable for what i am doing. Kind of like “Software by Committee”… growing software around the customers needs and feedback. Truth is that i think many businesses (esp. smaller ones) stand to benefit from bonding with their customers… a kind of “we’re in this together” dynamic that would keep people coming back for more. Very exciting and i am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this further,

    Luc

  4. Brilliant post Brad.

    As someone who is currently struggling with branding a start-up, this new perspective has really articulated some of what I’ve been trying to achieve, given me greater clarity, and much food for thought.

    For me it’s all about integrity of the product – as a business owner and as a consumer. In consumer mode, I have far more respect for the brand (and the marketers) when I know that what they’re flogging is actually a quality service/product. And that makes me far more predisposed to want to “participate” in it.

    Cheers, Danielle

  5. Mark…

    More people, myself included, need to read your book “Your Marketing Sucks” as you are obviously a person worth learning from since you genuinely understand the operations of a successful company. Thanks for being on board with my marketing movement that focuses more on BONDING, and less on branding.

    Luc…

    I like your approach to bonding within the software sector. There are definitely opportunities to bond with customers in ALL industries. It might take some deep thinking to figure out where your product’s opportunities to bond are; but rest assured that those opportunites DO exist! It’s your job to find and implement them.

    As a business owner, you can confidently know that you have successfully bonded with your product’s users when you see them smile, or see a joyful tear running down their face.

    I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again…

    If you can touch your customer’s emotions, they will gladly touch your products.

    bizMAVERICK…
    Brad Williamson

  6. Brilliant thinking Brad!!

    “Branding” is an important part of a marketing campaign, but with nothing else to compliment it (like bonding) you are just left with a branded product. This is great only to an extent b/c eventually the consumers are going to want an emotionally connection with that product or they won’t continue to buy it.

    I’m in the business of building relationships with my clients, which in turn creates trust and ultimately better business. My product is one of the most competitive products in the industry, but I have to do more than just rely on the brand. Don’t get me wrong, the brand is a huge advantage, but you need to do just a little bit more like Brad is talking about, “Bonding”. The emotional connection is what seals the day.

    Again Brad, great thinking! Hopefully Advertisers/Marketers will soon catch on.

    Shane

  7. Shane… You are wise my friend ; )

    Gimmicks and fancy-shmancy marketing ain’t cutting it anymore is it? We all recognize the problem, so let’s fix it. If we continue to market our products via the smoke and mirrors of branding, our customers are gonna realize the posers that we are.

    …Let’s not be posers.

    bizMAVERICK…
    Brad Williamson

  8. Indeed, this is a great article.

    I just want to add that a company can spend millions of dollars on building a brand and relationship marketing; but unless they have a strong value proposition (great products or services) that fulfills a need, they will never achieve greatness. A few companies that come to mind are webvan (no longer in biz), aol (losing market share by the minute), and earthlink (who?).

  9. Brad Williamson is one of the few individuals that has the creative mind to represent any product. His committment, heart, and soul are part of his being. The creativity and dedication to his true self is a great asset to any product. Wise beyond his years, he can uncannily see where you’re coming from. It’s his honest self and he’s a true maverick. It’s obvious that his passion is real. The words written are who he is. This man has given real advice based on his own ideals. The words,ideas and declarations in his articles have been beneficial to all mavericks. Keep up the good work and continue to give your prospective to the real people.

  10. Hello Brad,

    I wanted to layout and play around with your idea of “bonding” with customers that i decided to post an article on my site, CommerceCubes.com, feel free to have a read and let me know what you think.

    http://commercecubes.com/publication/2006/10/%e2%80%9cby-committee%e2%80%9d-development-design-with-customers%e2%80%99-minds/

    Lucas

  11. I dug your article on the concept of “bonding” over “branding.” But how would small businesses without an advertising budget enforce the “bonding” of their products in the marketplace? How can “bonding” be applied to the fastest growing sector, the service industry, when there is nothing tangible to bond with – especially in the absence of an advertising budget?

  12. Hey Jonathan…

    Bonding is really a concept that is created out of a multitude of marketing strategies. It’s not so much a new philosophy, as it is a new approach to using existing philosophies. You just have to use existing marketing systems with a different outcome in mind that isnt about creating a huge brand, but about creating a legitimate bond. I know that’s a very general explanation to your question, but hopefully it makes a little bit of sense.

    bizMAVERICK…
    Brad Williamson

  13. Troy Scheer says

    Brad, you’re dead on, here. I’ve been preaching this to clients for some time. You should check out http://www.experientialforum.com I think you would enjoy being part of the group.

  14. As an author I can testify to this. My first novel when it released had no distribution to the stores by conventional method. Instead I pushed it and sold every copy face to face. Within months I was getting calls from stores saying they wanted the book. This is mainly b/c people started talking, about the book and me. I took my book to the best seller status within the african market as a result of people relations. Right now I am sought after by most of the african american book clubs to do online interviews, because i’m very outspoken and worldy. I have studied history and politics for 19yrs, and i’ve lived a very diverse life. From hustling to being incarcerated to holding very good jobs i’ve been there. And people I come across feel where i’m coming from, and that i’m just like them. In the world of literature, i’m causing a gradual change, b/c my literature also reflects my personality. So in your face i’m this way, and then when you purchase my books its like “yeah I can see him writing some deep shit like this!” And bc/ of it in a genre that primarily used to be about sensationalism and hollyhood stories I am causing people to want and expect more than the norm. This to some authors will become a problem b/c most writers do not have the knowledge or real life experience to go where I go in my literature.

    Basically, i’m just giving my testimonial that I totally agree with you mentioned.

    Thanks for that brianstorm, because you just had me going.

  15. Brad!

    How did I not get to reading this till today?

    You’re like…Bond…Brad Bond! I LOVE it! Genius it is!! It’s sooo academic like, yet wiser than half the shit I see in marketing/branding/communication theory texts I see at the university I work for.

    Good bonding man…I wanna be part of your crew.

    Kammie K.

  16. Hi Brad,
    Am sorry but I don’t totally disagree with you on bonding. According to my little knowledge of marketing – Branding is after all “Bonding”. A product is what the factory produces in millions. A brand is the special relationship between the consumers and the product. A marketer worth his salt will thru’ find that special relationship – read bond – If research shoes 50% of your consumers like something in about product than shouting about! This is what is called consumer insight and it can only come from the product user. Never from the manufacturer. If well used in marketing – read branding – this relationship – read bond – is what builds a great brand and what will persuade others to buy it while the mundane products attain the “sell by date” on the shelve.

  17. You are absolutely correct. We should build strong relationships with customers based on quality of the product. But there is no need for a new term because branding IS the proper term. Let’s face it nothing kills a bad product faster than great marketing. A customer will only buy that bad product ‘once’.

    Brand by definition means reputation. Building a relationship through focused branding makes a powerful selling proposition. Case in point: Harley Davidson, Apple and Nike. When these powerful brands market themselves they rarely show the actual products and their features but instead play on the unique relationships they have with their audiences – in your words, ‘bonding’.

    Take a quote from the head of Harley, “We don’t sell motorcycles, what we do is make it possible for 50 year old accountants to dress in black leather, ride around in small towns and have people be afraid of them.” Now that is branding (bonding).

    The way your words portray ‘branding’ makes me think you view it as merely spin, nothing substantial. I view branding as bonding.

  18. “Touch my heart, and I’ll touch your products.” That on itself said it all for me. Brilliant.

    I agree with you that so many big mammoth like companies are earning (and earning good) with bad quality, and less than innovative products; and the means of their success is the brand. As well, I agree that the relationship between customer and product (or brand) should be one of bonding. However I don’t think that the practice of branding itself is not useful anymore. I believe many marketers have deviated from the original branding intentions and objectives. Branding in itself, by essence must be about bonding. Otherwise the brand will lack significance and will only be a pretty name or logo.

    True branding, based on bonding, takes every single customer touchpoint and works with it.

    I’d definitely like to see much more bonding-branding going on myself. Great article. Keep up the good job.

    Ron E.
    http://www.brandcurve.com