Branding, Engagement, and the Limits of Applause
There is nothing quite like the sound of applause, but strong brands and strong leaders remember that applause is temporary. To build a lasting relationship and have a lasting impact requires more than the fleeting expression of momentary approval. Those more significant outcomes require brand engagement.
Applause (1970) by Lee Adams & Charles Strouse
“There must be more to life than this.”
Freddie Mercury, 1982
Brand engagement is the ongoing process of building a connection between a person and a brand. In theatrical terms, it is the unfolding of a story that involves both characters – both listen, both take action, both respond to what happens, and both are involved in the scenes.
Engagement can be built in different ways. It can start with that applause, or approval, when the awareness of your brand creates an initial positive response. It can grow when a conversation takes place between the brand leader and the consumer, or the artist and the audience. It can deepen when you provide multiple opportunities for your audience to participate in branded experiences, relating to your brand and talking about it with others. All of these elements must be consistent with the overall story that your brand is telling, and the promise that your brand is making to everyone who encounters it.
Pursuing brand engagement can feel like a neverending quest for Twitter followers, Facebook likes, or blog comments. All of these can be useful metrics in certain circumstances, but as Robert Passikoff explained in Forbes, it’s important to realize that engagement with your communication tools or methods is not quite the same thing as engaging with your brand. After all, some people love to go to the theatre even when they don’t care for the play.
Interacting with the Brand
It is easy for a brand to become a permanent monologue. We have hundreds or thousands of things we want our audiences to understand about our product, whether it’s a retail product or something else, like our art, or our leadership vision, or any other idea we wish to share. And sometimes a monologue can be a strong dramatic experience, so it has a place in the overall texture of the play. But don’t leave the other characters out of the scene too long – they may find another theatre where they can get some stage time, too!
Most of my brand’s interaction happens on the Facebook and Twitter pages, and in person at events. I can tell that my brand has engaged with a large part of my audience because they think of my brand when they encounter other providers in my sector. When people in my audience watch television, go to a movie, or see something floating around online – if it involves magic, I will frequently get dozens of emails or shares asking me if I’ve seen it. Those interactions come via Facebook, Twitter, or email, but in all cases they indicate that I have ownership of the “magic” brand for them.
What are you experiencing in your own business that lets you know that your brand has traction and engagement? What are you going to do now to increase that engagement?