Hummingbird Creative Group, Inc. hosted a Branding Special Interest Group (SIG) Event in June for the Triangle chapter of the American Marketing Association. As a new member with the association, it was my first time to attend a SIG Event. I was honored to attend this particular one, as I had received a personal invitation the day before from Wendy at the end of a 2-hour job interview for a position at Hummingbird. I definitely wanted to show my interest and made it a point to come early and be in attendance.
The topic of the meeting was “Brand Strategy Misunderstood”. The first collaborative exercise assigned to all of the attendees was to define to everyone what we thought branding was. Interestingly, there were fifteen different opinions, but only 2 common threads to our conversation: customers and reputation.
Some of the main themes we spoke about within a customer’s perception of branding were: a great customer experience, personality & perception, the promise a company keeps, a reflection of the customer, the identity, the experience, what we see when no one is listening, the approach, a congruent message and a consistent story. We also discussed the art of social listening. Conceptually, companies need to get closely involved to their customers and “hear” the messages they convey from their experience to help better define their brand. We also discussed fulfillment of brand promises. When this occurs, customers feel satisfaction and want to spread the word to others. When great customer experience occurs and the message is spread, a reputation is created and further fostered.
The second thread to our conversation was how the company’s reputation is entrenched in the brand. This can be defined as, “What distinctly sets you apart, the common thread to your identity & reputation” or how you are recognizable in the industry. Other comments were, “The art & science of creating & building your brand…therefore becomes the quality of your identity.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, we all agreed when business objectives are executed in branding, results are driven. Leadership defines and leads company objectives, but they need to be driven by customer demand. Eventually, the brand defines itself through this process.
As for the job interview, I guess my interest in the SIG paid off… I’m the new marketing coordinator here at Hummingbird!