David Mackenzie Ogilvy, the man known as the “Father of Advertising,” founder of the venerable New York/British advertising firm Ogilvy and Mather, defined brand as the intangible sum of a product’s attributes. The Dictionary of Brand, a glossary of terms widely used by brand specialists, defines brand as “a person’s perception of a product, service, experience, or organization.”
A brand is not a logo, identity, or product. It is the way an individual, organization, or company is perceived by those who experience it. A brand lives in the minds of people who experience it. Your brand is not a thing, it is an emotion, a gut feeling that members of your audience have about you and your organization, product, or service.
Now, the concept of the brand has changed. Today nearly every brand lives at least partly online. On the Interactive Internet of the 21st century, in a space where any and all users are free to input their ideas and opinions about anything and everything, a fertile breeding ground of instant social media memes that spawn in-real-life social movements.
The Internet is a place shaped by light-speed communication and personal broadcast capabilities never before seen in history. It’s a limitless virtual public square where people meet to talk, a place where a poorly-prepared lunch entrée in Tonopah Nevada USA is being discussed 10 minutes later in Timbuktu Mali Africa. In this space full of clicks, shares, likes, thumbs-ups, and stars, brand has morphed into reputation.
The care and curation of reputation, an effort known as Online Reputation Management, or ORM, now ranks as one of the most critical areas of concern for the modern business owner or independent professional. In fact, in a 2018 study commissioned by TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel website, 98 percent of travel and hospitality business owners and operators in the US and around the globe said that online reviews were important to their businesses, and 97 percent said that online reputation management was important.