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What is Brand Evangelism?

“Branding” has become the buzzword du jour—the true darling of Madison Avenue. More “brand consultants” have emerged in recent times than any other type of creative professional. Some seek to reduce branding to aesthetics, clever wording, and humorous advertising. I argue that this perspective is not only reductionistic, but potentially damaging to the organization. branding-iron.jpg Branding is not just storytelling; it’s not just a fusion of MFAs and MBAs; and neither is it irrelevant, as some DM professionals might argue. I would submit that branding incorporates all aspects of a business, from value chain management, to the people who make the organization, to the integrity of customer relationships—and, yes, to the creativity of the advertising. In my opinion, a gravitational marketer must view “branding” as an integral concept, covering the values systems of both the seller and the buyer, the culture and messaging of the organization, and the business processes and systems of the organization. In other words, your "brand identity" is your marketing, your customer relationships, the cleanliness (or lack thereof, if that's what you're going for) of your store, the conversion rates on your website--so as a small business, you must take the concept of "brandscendence" with a grain of salt. Okay, now for the "touchy-feely," philosophical aspect of branding: Martin Buber wrote, “Through the Thou a person becomes I.” We find meaning and existence in human relationships. A truly “creative” brand—by today’s standards—will be a co-creative brand, a process whereby the consumer enters in a mutually beneficial relationship with the buyer. An “I-Thou” relationship requires authenticity, trust, dialogue, and convergence of interests. Indeed, clever differentiation strategies can help, especially as the company achieves economies of scale. Gravitational Marketing heavily employs concepts of “value proposition,” “unique selling proposition,” and other marketing concepts; yet it also focuses on integration, both of messaging and of the relationship with the customer. Once the brand integrates with the customer, evangelism can emerge. Quite simply, branding is who you are, how you manage, what you sell, how well you sell it, your word-of-mouth reputation, and everything else that goes into creating a profitable business. Just don't think branding is reserved for the Ivory Towers of advertising or creative types who couldn't run your business if they had a gun to their head.