Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

Who owns our brands?

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brand interactionThe real answer, of course, is: Our audiences. Some might call them communities. You know what I mean: The people that listen to us and that we interact with. They own our brands. Whatever they say our brand is is indeed our brand – no matter how much we might disagree.

So the real answer is that our audiences own our brands. And then there’s the question of who owns the accounts associated with our brands.

This image shows how three common brands can overlay.

The business brand

This one is easy. It’s the business brand and related accounts. Company A is owned by its owners, shareholders, etc., and the accounts are clearly identifiable and have the business name in them. The business (let’s hope) has a strategy and a person or team update this account in line with that strategy.

The leaders brands

This is the first of two kinds of accounts that involves people as the public face. You may notice that I don’t call them personal accounts. Having true personal accounts will become harder and harder as work and lives integrate more and more and become more open online. Especially for leaders in an organization, it’ll be hard to see a difference between their “personal” and “professional” identities. If those two identities don’t align, it’s hard for employees and external audiences to align them with each other. One’s trustworthiness could suffer.

The people (employees) brands

I call these people vs. employees brands because for many people nowadays it’s less and less likely to work for the same company for an entire career. The people brands are company independent, but when all three brands truly align internally and externally that’s when companies, their leaders and employees can all help each other by:

  • Strengthening each other’s brands
  • Acquiring more customers
  • Learning from each other
  • Being a participant in our communities

Smart people build their own brands and then integrate them with the companies they lead or work for. Smart companies and leaders encourage it and even help the three circles work together authentically and transparently with simple rules outlined.

Where there might be a rub

In the past, I’ve heard about journalists and other communications professionals who have established their brand on social media and then the organizations they work for claim they own those people’s social media brand. Usually, they just call that “the accounts.” Probably because it’s hard to argue for owning somebody else’s brand.

Typically, this is only a topic of discussion, of course, when an employee with a strong brand is planning on leaving a company that was reaping some benefit of the strong personal brand.

On one side, there might be some truth to that an organization helped an individual built their brand. But the brand also benefited from the person’s brand. And what would an organization do with a person’s accounts when that person leaves anyway? It’s not like they can have somebody else take over.

“Hi, I’m your new @ctrappe.” Right, that doesn’t make any sense at all.

When these discussions happen they are really a holdover from a time when (some) business owners thought they could control everything. In a world of abundance, there’s no reason we can’t all have our own pieces, which can operate on their own at times and at other times come together and support each other.

It’s a world of abundance. When we all encourage individuality, community and authentic storytelling across, we can fill our lives with meaningful experiences.

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Christoph Trappe

Hello and thanks for stopping by. I'm Christoph Trappe and I'm the Vice President of Content Marketing Strategy, Americas, at ScribbleLive, which is based in Toronto and is a global content marketing software company. Before I started at ScribbleLive I was VP of Content Marketing and Conversion at MedTouch, a Boston-based company that helps healthcare organizations with digital marketing. I've written two books, speak at conferences around the globe and blog frequently on here. I love sharing my stories and helping organizations share theirs. If you need help, just visit the Contact Me page in the navigation and drop me a note. I'm always happy to chat! Thanks for reading! - Christoph 319-389-9853

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