Does Your Brand Still Matter?

personal brandGuest Post: Mike Smith of WordSmith Creative

One of the tenants of the new order of Social Media is that “You don’t control your brand. Your brand is what your customers say it is.” Whether or not that is 100 percent true, there is certainly a lot of truth to that statement.

It really doesn’t matter if you say you are the best, fastest, most reliable, most efficient, or biggest bang for the buck. Unless your customers agree, it doesn’t matter what you say. In fact, it doesn’t even matter if it’s true.

We’ve all heard that, “Perception is reality.” It’s certainly true in the world of business and marketing. It may not be fair, but even if you’re the best at what you do, it doesn’t matter unless the public thinks you are.

There’s no question that the pressure is on to prove your claim to your brand. One thing that Social Media has clearly demonstrated is that the world is watching—and talking about whether or not you live up to your claims. If you let people down, they will talk about it publicly—and there are plenty of people who are listening.

So does your brand matter at all? Or are you wasting your time creating and promoting your brand? Here’s a non-scientific, statistically invalid example of why I think brand still does matter.

We were in need of some new knives at our house. Our old set kept losing their edge—and I was tired of constantly having to sharpen them. By chance, I came across a set of Wolfgang Puck knives at a store at what seemed to me an extremely attractive price. Now, I’m a pretty firm believer in “you get what you pay for”, but there I stood with the knife set in my hands, trying to decide whether I should gamble on an inexpensive set of knives.

I’ll confess that I’ve almost never seen Wolfgang Puck on TV, but I have been in his restaurants. And I’ve been pretty impressed. He definitely has a brand and (at least among a certain group of people) has a reputation for quality. He may not be the best chef in the world, but my impression was always that he delivered really good stuff that was accessible to those of us who couldn’t afford exorbitant prices. That (to me at least) is his brand.

With that in mind, I purchased a set of Wolfgang Puck knives. I knew I wasn’t getting a set of $500 knives for the low, low price of $50. But I also knew I didn’t need $500 knives. Some people wouldn’t have been happy with the knives I bought—but I was. I got value that was commensurate (or a little better) with the price I paid.

Would I have bought those knives if they didn’t have Wolfgang Puck’s name on them? Probably not. But I didn’t buy them because he’s a celebrity. I bought them because of what he stands for—because of his brand.