In social media, a brand is created when there is a co-ordination between brand identity and brand culture. Brand identity and brand culture are complex terms. They are terms that must be understood in order to create a brand in the social media era. The best way to explain complex issues is to give an illustration.
The U.S. Marines have a brand. This brand has both an identity and a culture. The identity of the Marines is they are to obey orders. This is best illustrated by the movie, “A Few Good Men”. In this movie, two Marines are convicted of a murder because even though they obeyed orders, they failed to protect the weak. The Surge in Iraqi was successful because the Marines understood their brand.
The success of the Surge in Iraq is an illustration and an analogy of how of how brand identity and brand culture work together to create a brand. In very simple terms, the surge in Iraq was a branding campaign. The surge was successful because the U.S. Marines understood their brand and they knew how to communicate this brand successfully to the Iraqi people. This is analogous to a successful social media strategy. To have a successful social media brand, a marketer must know their brand, and they must know how to communicate this successfully. The marines knew how to do this.
To understand how the Surge worked, let’s use the analogy of going to the store. We go to a shelve and we have a choice in purchasing one of either two products. The choice of which product you purchase will come down to which product is branded the best. A brand is a combination of brand identity and brand culture. These two things create a brand.
The “product” the Iraqis were choosing was the establishment of a government. They had two choices in their “market place”. They could choose either a government of their own choosing, or they could choose a government installed by the insurgency. Their choice would be same as if it were for any other product. The choice would come down to branding.
The branding of the Marine Corps involves two things; brand identity and brand culture. The identity of the Marines is that they are people of honor who obey orders. There was an election in Iraqi in which Iraqi citizens decided who they wanted to govern them. The orders for the Marines were that they were to enforce the results of this election because the Iraqis couldn’t do it themselves. This created a brand for the Marines in Iraq.
The insurgency offered a product revolving around having an installed government, based on a narrow interpretation of Islam. This is the brand of the insurgency.
To the mind of the insurgent, they are men of honor as well. Their culture was not one in which the weak would be protected. In Iraq there were two factions of Islam. If you belonged to the opposite side of the insurgency, you would be killed or terribly abused. Insurgent religious precepts demanded this. The weak would not be protected. Just the opposite. The weak would be abused. An insurgent government offered no choice and no protection for the average Iraqi citizen. Iraqi citizens had a choice among two brands, the Marines or the Insurgency, in establishing a government.
The choice would come down to branding. The Iraqi people made their choice based on a terrible incident that established the Marine brand in the minds of Iraqi citizens.
An Iraqi family was massacred by a Marine patrol. There was an attempted cover-up. The Marine’s brand identity is that they are men and women of honor. The Marines have mechanisms for reporting battlefield abuses. Several marines who were present reported this incident to a higher chain of command. These were low rank, patrol marines.
Investigations followed and several marines were accused, tried, and convicted of serious crimes. Some of these were Marine officers. These officers had a court martial and were imprisoned after they were convicted. This process impressed the Iraqi population. The Marines brought their own to justice through the words of lower ranking Marines.
In Saddam’s era something like this wouldn’t happen. Rank would protect you. The right group could and would do anything they wanted to.
The Iraqi chose the Marine brand. Under the Marine brand, honorable men protect those who can’t protect themselves. It was this brand that created success for the Surge. Under the Marines, the average Iraqi citizen saw that they would be protected. This is why surge worked and why the Iraqis could choose a government of their own making. The Surge worked because the Marines understood how to create a brand. A brand is created by co-ordinating a brand and a culture.