Jim Murray

4 years ago · 3 min. reading time · visibility ~10 ·

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How To Lose Friends & Piss Off A Lot Of People On Social Media

y The Mou onday $a
Morin Sirti

Preface: A while ago, I had coffee with a very good friend of mine who is one of the smartest marketing strategists (and human beings) I know. He’s been in marketing in almost every capacity you could imagine for a lot of years.
While we were chatting, he let it drop that he was pretty much out of marketing (into book editing) and was reasonably certain that he had no intention of going back to it.
When I asked him why, he simply said…”I am sick to death of the concept of branding being used by everybody and their uncle. It’s one of those things that means nothing and yet, everybody keeps trying to convince their clients that without it they are doomed.”
Oddly enough, I simply could not argue with that. And that is kinda what inspired this post.

Branding....Bullshit or Not Bullshit?

Over the years I have spent a lot of time here on social and business media and one of the most common occurrences that you see here is people talking about branding.
A lot of these people call themselves branding specialists, and talk about branding like it is some sort of universal necessity.


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They analyze branding, build personal brands for themselves, discuss and comment about how various things affect branding and about the importance of branding to any company who wants to be seen and noticed in the world.
They argue about whether or not a company is well branded. Their lexicon is filled with expressions like: brand building, brand integrity, brand equity, branding parity, power branding, brand engineering, weak branding, branding methodologies, enhancing your brand, even re-branding, although I have never been able to figure out what that actually is.
Somebody I know has even made a whole enterprise out of a concept called Sticky Branding, and he’s done a hell of a job.
You can even have a brand in a vertical silo like your social media brand or your personal brand.
Man, that’s a lot of branding. And maybe just a lot of overheated carbon dioxide.

There Are 2 Issues Here

1. If you ask the question on beBee or LinkedIn like “What Is Branding?”, you will get back as many different answers as there are respondents. So that’s confusing to start with, especially if you are some kind of client who is talking to a bunch of ‘branding’ experts trying to decide who to work with.
2. The one thing that is never really acknowledged in all this branding talk is that the consumers out there in the real world, and they could be individual or business consumers, really don’t, at least in my experience, care at all about branding.
Branding, it could be argued, is one of those terms that only means something to the people who call themselves ‘branders, brand builders, brand architects or branding experts’ and the maybe some of clients they work for.
Outside of that rather tiny universe, it means nothing, Brands are not brands to the vast majority of us. They are products. They are processes. They are services. They are experiences. They are destinations, They are companies. They are corporations. They are institutions. They are people who do certain stuff.

How Did It Come To This?

Back before most of the so called “branding experts” came into being and started hacking the word to death, trying to convince anybody who would listen that building a strong brand was Job #1 for every company out there, I used to work in advertising. You remember advertising, don’t you?
In fact I worked at one of the best packaged goods agencies in the world. The only time the word brand was used was as an adjective, as in “brand spanking new” or if we were doing something with cowboys and cattle in it. In other words, branding was really just one of many utilitarian adjectives.
The products I worked on were all brands in the technical sense, but nobody ever called them that. Nope, we just thought about the customer and how to get them to buy our stuff as opposed to the stuff that other packaged goods agencies were helping market.
I’m not sure how the word branding even got into the marketing lexicon. But honestly, if you’re doing your job right, meaning if you are identifying the right customer for your client’s product or service, finding out what it is they are looking for in that product or service, and figuring out a compelling way to give them that, you don’t have to worry at all about ‘branding’.
Because, quite simply, you will have something way more important…sales.

Now That You Hate Me... (LOL)

Now I’m not naive. I know that this little post isn’t gonna get all the branding types to stop chanting whatever mantra they have been chanting. It’s gone too far for that.
Hell, I even use the term Brand Ambassador to describe myself here on beBee. But I don’t consider that hypocritical or anything, although cheerleader or Walmart greeter would probably be more accurate descriptions.
Branding is a reality, especially on places like Linked in and even to some extent here on beBee, no matter how overworked a concept I think it is.
No, in fact, I want everybody to keep coming up with ways to dimensionalize branding and screw it right into the ground.
Because while they’re doing that, I’ll be out here waving at customers with a solid proposition and some kind of idea that will get them interested in my client’s product or services, (or my own) without having to wade through the deep blue ocean of bubbly goo called ‘branding’ to get there.

Jim Murray, Strategist, Writer
& beBee Brand Ambassador
I work with small to mid-sized businesses,
designers, art/creative directors & consultants

to create results driven, strategically focused
communication in all on & offline medio

| om also @ communications mentor, lyricist

& prolific op/ed blogger Your Story Well Told
mail.com | Skype:

If your business has reached the point where talking to an experienced  communication professional would be the preferred option to banging your head against the wall or whatever, lets talk.
Download my free ebook

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Sarah Elkins

4 years ago #28

Thanks for the mention, Milos Djukic.

Lisa Gallagher

4 years ago #27

Can we go back to the 70's Randall Burns, he will confirm I'm not a techie- couldn't agree more! I'm a people person. :)

Randall Burns

4 years ago #26

Wow! I started reading some of the comments and figured I better comment now before I got totally lost in the rhetoric... Great piece and a breath of fresh air Jim Murray , I'm still trying to get my head around the whole "branding" concept and while i do understand this development to some degree I can relate to your message completely. I guess I'm a dying breed in that in my life and profession, (Chef), there really isn't a need or use for such an abstract concept as "Branding"... or maybe I'm just getting old and obsolete? (I'm not lamenting in the least, quite happy). It's funny, I stumbled onto this post right after reading Lisa \ud83d\udc1d Gallagher 's post on "life in the 70's", reminded me of a lot of things and also reminded me of the incredible changes we've gone through since then; along with changes in our priorities. Always good to see an alternative perspective, Thank You.

Jerry Fletcher

4 years ago #25

Phil, Are you sure of that count? Meanwhile back on the magical mystery tour...

Debesh Choudhury

4 years ago #24

This post helps me to think about "brand" Jim Murray

Jim Murray

4 years ago #23

This post goes to illustrate something very important about blogging. There is actually no rhyme or reason to what will get a good old fashioned debate going. All it is is throwing darts. Thanks for the great stream everybody.
Thanks for sharing Milos...but i am still wondering what to do with it? it has already been shared in most hives...

Milos Djukic

4 years ago #20

And finally, thank you Jim Murray:)

Milos Djukic

4 years ago #19

Another trap is to perform a Google search in the aim of finding yourself at the top. This does not guarantee success of the so-called "personal brand". Any serious cooperation is not the result of Google search only.

Milos Djukic

4 years ago #18

More details from John White, MBA: "How I Swim With The Big Fish at Inc. Magazine", beBee post by John White https://www.bebee.com/producer/@john-white/how-i-swim-with-the-big-fish-at-inc-magazine "I never self-promote myself as an expert or a guru. I let my writing speak for itself. If the content is good enough, people will come back for more, and they will begin to use wonderful adjectives to describe you." - John White (social media and marketing guru - my personal remark) Sarah Elkins are mentioned in this brilliant post about personal branding and much more.

Milos Djukic

4 years ago #17

Great series about "How to develop the global brand" - Marketing case studies by Kohei Kurihara. A must read for all marketers. https://www.bebee.com/producer/@kohei-kurihara/marketing-case-study-toyota-36#c3

Milos Djukic

4 years ago #16

On social network it is impossible to separate business from personal. They are intertwined within a complex adaptive system, such as social network. If you have not cared for your online community , it’s personal, but above all the business need. Business is personal.

Milos Djukic

4 years ago #15

One marketing expert from Japan with whom I had few interactions told me then:: "Please let me know if I can help you further". That was a personal brand. Pure and simple.

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #14

You mean to say, Jerry, that 3,765,239 clicks don't count? What, you say not one of them resulted in a contact with a qualified prospect? Well, I have to say perhaps you just don't understand social media marketing or branding.

Milos Djukic

4 years ago #13

"8 Reasons a Powerful Personal Brand Will Make You Successful" by Matt \ud83d\udc1d Sweetwood on entrepreneur.com (March 27, 2017) https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/289278

Milos Djukic

4 years ago #12

cc. John White, MBA

Milos Djukic

4 years ago #11

Kudos Jerry Fletcher.

Jerry Fletcher

4 years ago #10

Jim, As an ad man for 50 years I know exactly what you mean. Unfortunately I'm one of those guys that gets saddled with the term Brand Expert. That's because I started doing a thing called positioning in the 80's right around the time the title "Brand Manager" entered the lexicon. It took them a good 20 years to move from B2C to B2B. But move they did. So now the term is bandied about by people that fail to comprehend the basics: Brand is a reflection of Trust and you are going to have one whether you like it or not. And no, you can't control it. All you can do is influence it. And by the way, your job as marketers is to find the best way to sell something. What have you done for me lately?

Milos Djukic

4 years ago #9

Personal branding on social media is something like a blurry picture of who you are, about what we strive for and how we can win a space that is above us. The pervasive commercialization of everything that is human, such as furiously branding, personal branding, and pompous self-aggrandizement represent the current trend, particularly on social media. I'm not sure that it brings good to each individual. This new trend in a way represents a generalization and somehow discrediting the human need for creative self expression. Sometimes, "the end justifies the means", fortunately relatively rare on social media. Putting the individual in place of product and aggressive personal branding brings with it a number of shortcomings and pushing us away from the essence. The essence of knowledge.

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #8

Thank you, Peter, but I think I'll pass on the current presidential "brand" -- which surpasses "poppycock" and enters the realm of "bubkas". ✌️😆

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #7

PS @Peter - I also submit that many believe erroneously that brands can be instantaneous created by purchasing influencer endorsements. Which, if true, requires us to differentiate between durable and transient branding. For durable branding can only be developed organically and must be based on real value. Something, I submit, social media marketing has yet to recognize. IMO. Cheers!

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #6

@Peter Altschuler, I don't see where Jim or anyone has said brands don't matter. It seems to me that what is at issue is how a brand develops and gets nurtured. Those with vested interests in selling branding services too often imply, if not outright assert that brands can be constructed independent of delivering real value in the goods or services with which the brand is associated. And think solely in terms of "perceived" value. Which is why some brands are vulnerable to "blind test" campaigns by competitors. BTW, great to find another human being in this contemporary world who appreciates the term "poppycock". Cheers!

Jim Murray

4 years ago #5

Thanks Peter Altschuler. I write these things to get people to argue with them (in a civilized way of course). I understand the concept of the brand and agree with you about brand perception. I just woke up this morning feeling contrarian like my friend Bob Hoffman.

Laurent Boscherini

4 years ago #4

Thank you Jim Murray for sharing your brilliant post.If I can understand, it coud be reduced in 3 verbs : Extr(act), Ex(press), and Ex(ude : οὐδέ = but not). You are right, always considering all the external factor pertaining to personal branding... Perception should serve more as a scorecard rather as an objective.

Javier 🐝 CR

4 years ago #3

Peter Altschuler obviously Brands matter A LOT.

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #2

Jim, you make a strong point about "branding". I personally believe that one cannot develop a brand by posting BS all over social media, but rather one needs to enable his or her or his or her business's brand develop and grow organically through delivering goods and services as promised and via ongoing interaction with prospects and customers. Ah wait, I think we used to call that developing a good reputation. Well, hell, you can't sell "reputationing" services. So "branding" will, I guess, have to do. I suggest that, when dealing with digital marketers, a good BS indicator is if they talk about "ROI" a lot, and especially if they equate ROI with clicks and likes and fail ever to mention ROI in terms of conversions and sales. Jes thinkin' out loud.

Mohammed Abdul Jawad

4 years ago #1

A bold interpretation for branding strategists!

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