Reverse branding occurs when a customer brands the entrepreneur. This is how the Model T was branded in 1908. How does reverse branding work and why is it so powerful? The customer chooses the product simply because of the entrepreneur who created the product. This is a powerful form of branding.
An entrepreneur has such a powerful reputation with a customer that this automatically differentiates the product. It is powerful because the brand is created by the customers themselves. Because of the entrepreneur involved, a product is chosen, to the exclusion of all others, simply because of the entrepreneur who created it. The entrepreneur creates the product, and the customer creates the brand. The Model T of 1908 was a successful brand in 1908, because customers had a positive brand for Henry Ford.
When Henry Ford created a brand for the Model T in 1908, there were 253 auto companies in the US. How did Henry Ford succeed with his Model T? Why did the other entrepreneurs fail? Henry Ford offered a low price, but that is not the reason why the Model T went on to become an historic brand. The Model T succeeded because the city of Detroit had a strong brand for Henry Ford. By viewing this two-fold dynamic, modern social media marketers can observe a bench mark for branding.
Two things happen when a product is branded. To be successful the product is branded by the marketer. At the same time, the customer has a brand for the entrepreneur and brands the entrepreneur’s product.
The Model T of 1908 was successful because it was a modern social media brand. A social media brand is created when the customer and brand create a personal friendship. The two become friends. The brand becomes friends to the product. The customer becomes friends to the brand. In a social media context, a relationship is created that is two-fold. The Model T became an historic brand because it “friended” the public. A two-fold conversation was created between brand and customer.
It is interesting to study the world that Henry Ford functioned in because there are analogies between our era and his. In 1908, the automobile was seen as the next big thing. Detroit was the center of the action—much as Silicone Valley is the center of our technology world. Inside the car community, Henry Ford had a sterling personal brand. Detroit of 1908 was a machine town and Henry Ford was an ace mechanic. He was also a champion race driver. The lesson for contemporary marketers is that to create a strong social media brand, it helps you immeasurably if you have strong credibility within your community.
In creating a brand, ask yourself this question, why should people listen to me? To create a brand, a marketer must have credibility with their customers.
Because of his credibility, Henry Ford was like Steven Jobs in terms of his personal brand in that era. When the iPhone was first launched, it was highly anticipated because Steven Jobs was personally involved. This was the equivalent situation in 1908 before the Model T was launched. The Model T had strong, initial brand with the public because it was Henry Ford’s car. In a town of ace mechanics, Henry was the ace of aces. Henry was also one of them. Henry worked in machine shops right next to them. They knew that Henry wanted to create a car that would aid them, a “car for the masses”. They knew that Henry wanted to create a car that would run well, that they could afford, that would be easy to repair. They knew this because Henry was their neighbor. His car was for them. This set him apart from Billy Durant and Ransome Olds, and other car entrepreneurs of the time. The other entrepreneurs positioned the car as a toy for the rich. Henry targeted working people. Detroit created a brand for Henry Ford that the other entrepreneurs didn’t possess.
The reason why the Model T stood out as a brand is that it had parts that were interchangeable, making repairs easy. Its frame used a new steel from Europe called vanadium that was strong but light, so that the Model T weighed about 25 per cent less than a comparable Buick. Most cars of the day, including the Buick, used ultra-heavy frames to cope with America’s rough and rutted roads, which made them prone to getting stuck. Henry Ford had a brand for the Model T and this is why it stood out. Detroit had a brand for Henry Ford, which is why they were interested in his unique car creation.
The fact that the Model T was Henry Ford’s car instantly gave it credibility. The Model T flexed the road. This allowed it to go places that other cars couldn’t. People had faith in this car because it was Henry’s car.
Social media brands are created when brands and customers create a friendship with one another. This is the relationship that developed between the public and Henry Ford. Henry Ford’s product “friended” the public in 1908.