Customers create a brand for entrepreneurs. This is called reverse branding. Reverse branding creates the powerful differentiation that is needed to set a product apart. How reverse branding works is important for marketers to understand this in a social media era. The great asset that social media provides is scale. There are a great many brands, there are a great many entrepreneurs, there are a great many customers. Many customers will choose a product only because of the entrepreneur who created it. This is an important concept in understanding branding in the social media era.
The conventional means of branding seems to be that a product is created and it is differentiated from the products in its space. Social media branding is about a brand and its customers creating a friendship, a personal relationship. Because of this brand, this relationship, this friendship, a customer picks a specific product merely because who created this product. Three examples of this are Henry Ford, Steven Jobs, and Matt Damon.
People chose the I Phone as the pre-eminent brand in smart phones because Steven Jobs created it. Customers had a brand for Steve Jobs. The brand is that Steve Jobs creates elegantly designed products whose technology is unsurpassed. This reverse branding is critical in understanding the success that the I Phone has had. There were many “smart phones” before the I Phone. Why did the I Phone become the pre-eminent brand in smart phones? It was because Jobs was involved. This is how customers saw the I Phone and Steve Jobs. “The I Phone just has to be the pre-eminent technology in smart phones. Steve Jobs created it didn’t he?” This is how reverse branding works. This is how products are branded with reverse branding. It is a powerful branding force. When done with the right entrepreneur, these types of brands are very hard to compete against.
Water is an important food staple in western diets. It is an important staple in the energy drink space. There are many players in this space. How do you create a brand in this space? Actor Matt Damon has a great idea. He is creating a world class brand in water. He is doing this through reverse branding. Customers have a brand for Matt Damon. This brand is going to be hard to defeat in the market place. Matt, in addition to be a successful actor, is a social entrepreneur. He creates products to assist the economies of the third world. He creates products through micro finance. He creates brand through the involvement of entire villages. He creates products that people need and have limited sources to attain. He creates these necessary products by developing jobs in the village. He teaches people how to create jobs. He trains people to support themselves. He also creates products in which his co-investors make a great deal of money. Matt Damon’s brand is that he does good by doing good. He has a track record of success. In his water brand, people think like this, “this must be a good product. Matt Damon’s involved”.
The Model T became an historic brand because Detroit had a brand for Henry Ford. The city of Detroit saw Henry Ford in a certain light. Detroit knew Henry Ford to be an ace mechanic. He was a champion race car driver. Detroit also saw Henry Ford “as one of them”. A working man, like themselves, who knew how to create a car for the masses. Henry came from their neighborhood, they worked with him in their machine shops. His Model T, in 1908, just had to be a great car because Henry created it. This is the brand that 1908 Detroit had for Henry and his car. This is how the Model T became the most successful brand in American history. Customers branded the car.
A social media brand is a two-way street. Social media branding is when both a product and the market engage one another. A marketer brands a product. By the same token, the customer brands the product. How a customer brands a product has a great influence over whether or not the brand will be successful.