Unique Content: Truth or Consequences for Brands?

by Gregg on March 2, 2013

“It is not slickness, polish, uniqueness, or cleverness that makes a brand a brand. It is truth.” -Harry Beckwith

I love that quote, because – if you’ll pardon the pun – it’s so true. A company can dedicate immense resources to its branding efforts, but that’s all for naught if it doesn’t reflect a fundamental basic in life: truth. B2C or B2B; we’re in the era of the empowered customer, according to IBM – technology like the Internet and social media channels mean customers have more power than ever before in their decision-making. Intense competition means more choices.

I speculate most customers aren’t only price-oriented, but also seek an experience with a brand that makes them feel comfortable and confident and aligns with their values. In other words, that’s their definition of truth; not necessarily (or not only) base honesty. When customers find all those things, they talk about it, on social media channels and elsewhere, which creates brand identity, perception and reputation.

But can a brand, for lack of a better phrase, "orchestrate" that experience? I wonder if that’s what’s happening with the amount of unique content being generated and flooding social media channels. I visited the website of Beckwith Partners and ran across this post from Harry, which I encourage you to read, because it’s both impactful and short, maybe 150-200 words. In it he talks about the immense amount of content being generated, most of which is less than useful and thus in his mind "noise":

"Some days I feel overwhelmed by the noise. Are others? And is the world of ‘content’ sowing the seeds of its own destruction? Anyone?"

Like Harry, I do sometimes wonder if social media as a means of unique content delivery is doing little but turning customers off. There is so much of it, and a lot of it is accompanied by intrusive attempts at engagement that are about as transparent as plastic wrap. Collectively, I wonder if that’s building mental walls in the minds of customers over time.

Like I said in the last post, having a lot of content is fine, but especially in the case of social media channels, it has to be planned to meet the specific needs of a brand’s followers (i.e., the tribe members I mentioned), and not merely posted and forgotten. Where I think some (many?) brands are going wrong is by blasting out a bunch of content with the hope of getting more followers, likes, etc. That strategy may equate to quantifiable/justifiable data, but it’s also backward thinking. 

Lack of engagement, and connection, dilutes the opportunity for their content, and that brand, to align with a specific customer’s needs, and ultimately, their definition of truth.

What do you think? Is there just too much unique content? And if so, what’s the solution? Let me know your thoughts below.