UPDATED 19:04 EST / MARCH 06 2019


Clear identity and content marketing beat old-school ads and PR in the digital age

What is branding? Some may think it is makeup a company puts on its product or service to seduce or deceive customers.

That isn’t likely to get businesses far in the world of instant online research and reviews. Companies today are better off soul searching in advance and then telling compelling, fact-based stories through trusted channels. The two most important questions a company can ask before setting out to market itself are: “Who are you in the market?” and “Why do you matter?”

“If you can’t answer those questions, doing a branding exercise is a waste of money,” said Andy Cunningham (pictured), founder and president of Cunningham Collective LLC, a positioning strategy firm dedicated to bringing innovation to market.

For as long as Cunningham has worked in marketing, she has run into companies putting the cart before the horse in branding. They might have already paid a branding firm for some sexy ad copy only to realize that it wasn’t “taking” with consumers.

“I would realize, oh my God, you did all this first. You didn’t figure out your positioning strategy,” Cunningham said. Understanding brand positioning is the first step to selling to today’s savvy consumers, she added.

Cunningham sat down recently with John Furrier for a CUBE Conversation at theCUBE’s studio in Palo Alto, California. They discussed the basic brand positions and what word of mouth means in 2019.

Digital footprint steps over old barriers to exposure

In her book “Get to Aha!: Discover Your Positioning DNA and Dominate Your Competition,” Cunningham says there are three basic brand types: missionary (conceptual), mother (customer-focused) and mechanic (product-focused). Obviously, there are shades in between too.

Once a company figures out its positioning, it needs to get its message out. The rules for marketing and spreading knowledge about products and services have changed. Buying ads is now both expensive and unnecessary in many cases, according to Cunningham.

“You just fill your own social channels, your own website, your own blogs, your own vlogs, your own video,” Cunningham stated.

Through the many digital and social channels available, companies can build a large enough “digital footprint” to get noticed. This makes journalists and public relations teams less important to companies than they used to be, Cunningham explained. It also makes brands visible to journalists who might relay the story through news media.

In the past, companies had to nag journalists for coverage. Now, building a digital footprint first makes it much easier to get their attention, Cunningham said.

Here’s the complete video interview, one of many CUBE Conversations from SiliconANGLE and theCUBE:

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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