Reverse Branding

This is a new term for me, but a great part of the discussion. I first heard the term in a MarketingProfs eNewsletter that quoted the Living Light Bulb blog by Ryan Karples. The concept of “branding” is essentially starting with a brand and trying to create an association, such as Volvo and “safety”.

Reverse branding is starting with a category and trying to make the brand the obvious choice, such as search and then Google being the the first choice. With the litany of brands in the marketplace, reverse branding is the way the consumer’s mind works.

Karples gives the following recommendations for reverse branding:

Make a personal connection. Says Karpeles: “Kindness, mixed with a little bit of creativity, goes a long way in a world filled with companies who consistently settle for the bare minimum.” Create an emotional tie with your customers through handwritten notes, phone calls or gifts.

Give people a reason to talk about you. We pay far more attention to recommendations from friends, family and even strangers than we do to advertisements. Is your company up to the challenge? “Don’t get caught up in controlling the message,” says Karpeles. “Instead, do things that are worthy of passing along.”

Tell a story with your product or brand. Human history is filled with stories passed from generation to generation. “Customers can latch on to stories,” says Karpeles. “They can’t latch on to corporate buzzwords and abstract slogans.” So tell a story—whether humorous, clever, offbeat or just plain interesting—that your customers can internalize.

The Po!nt: Writes Karpeles, “People rarely think of your actual brand first. They think about what they want. Then they decide who, specifically, can fulfill that desire. Being that who is the essence of reverse branding.”

I recommend you check out the original post, but it sounds a lot to me like the word-of-mouth marketing, doesn’t it? Creating a cause, delivering an experience, creating a simple repeatable message – reverse branding is simply following the basics of word-of-mouth marketing.


2 thoughts on “Reverse Branding

  1. This is so old-hat, it’s not even funny. It’s been done in “advertising” for years. We create the category and then own
    the category. Word-of-mouth is just another vehicle for a message, a process which is OMG, advertising. It’s not better or worse. It’s just a vehicle. An effective vehicle but not the only vehicle. So why hype it so much? So why position against advertising???? Why create an invisible protagonist? Why not just be open to the variety of opportunities for a message to reach people? I remember back in the day that people used to go on and on about how online banner ads were the future of marketing. Yeah, they did. Now, when I see all the hype about this marketing trend over another, I just wonder what kind of snake oil it really is. New Media is still media. We still need a compelling message and we need to deliver it in a compelling way. Someone in advertising once said that.

  2. Great comment, Sean. The fact of the matter is that we are in violent agreement. I, too, believe that you use the right tool for the job, no matter what it is. I don’t think it is an invisible protagonist as much as pointing out the pros and cons of each. There is no denying that marketing is changing, and anyone who thinks otherwise has his head in the sand. You only need to open a newspaper or magazine to read articles about the struggling advertising and media industries.

    The consumer is becoming more elusive and advertising is becoming a less effective means of communicating to him. Whether you espouse word-of-mouth marketing, direct marketing, advertising, or a combination of all the above, you have to deal with the realities of the market. The fact is that marketers are not in complete control of their brands as they once were.

    I have used, and continue to use, all of these methods. However, word-of-mouth marketing is not a tactic or a line item on a marketing plan. It is a way of doing business. It enhances all other forms of marketing you incorporate.

    Good discussion. Thanks for the comment.

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