Nothing has impacted the way in which we think about marketing quite as much as social media has over the past decade or so, and with this comes the realization that we have been looking at branding from an archaic approach. No longer is branding about developing a relationship with consumers but, in effect, your brand ‘is’ your relationship. If you are going to build any kind of following whatsoever, your brand needs to be about the special relationship you have with your target audience.

A Look at the Evolution of ‘Brand’

If you were to take a few moments to think about what the word brand means and where it came from, you’d probably work your way back to the days when ranchers began ‘branding’ their cattle. This was a definitive mark that proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that any particular branded animal belonged to that ranch. A brand back then was a mark indicating where the product came from. Branding was an external feature indicating ownership of an idea or a product. However, there has been a shift that has fundamentally changed the way in which branding works within today’s society.

Today’s Business Is Rooted in Relationships

Those who study business administration are being taught the new paradigm for understanding brand. Today’s business is rooted in relationships and if you are going to develop your brand you need to focus on how you engage with your audience. That’s the essence of branding as taught in major schools of business around the country, such as the D’Amore – McKim School of Business at Northeastern University. From on campus MBA curriculum to online MBA programs, a huge part of business administration is focused on how you are perceived by those you do business with. Did you know that marketing is also a central focus of many online MBA degree programs? Without marketing, a business is often doomed to failure.

Marketing and Brand

So if brand is ‘who you are’ as opposed to a mark that identifies you, how do you tell people who you are? The answer to that has layers of complexity, but in simple terms, social media has the answer. Today’s consumer is a social creature who spends much of their day on social media, in chat rooms, texting, messaging and carrying on conversations, many of which are aimed at establishing relationships with someone previously unknown.

Millennials Hold the Key

Marketing in today’s culture can learn much from Millennials in this respect. If you are going to develop brand you need to be that brand. Engage your audience on a more personal level and they will know who you are and what you do. That is brand in the 21st Century and that is what you, as a business, should seek to understand.

Today’s consumer doesn’t want to see your mark of excellence; they want to experience it. Credentials are a whole lot less important than they once were because consumers want to know who you are. In the end, a successful business is seen as a ‘personality’, which is why it is said that branding comes from within. Your brand is more about who you are than what you do so surround yourself with positive, social people who have a similar vision for your company and that is your brand. You don’t need to tell the world who you are; you need to be who you are and your brand will sell itself.