Conversation Starters – What Brands Are Made Of

Mahesh Murthy, founder of Pinstorm and a venture capitalist at Seedfund, writing in The Wall Street Journal asks if your brand is “remark-worthy.” Because it’s kind of difficult to start a conversation around the brand if it isn’t.

When someone talks about your offering, is there a 10-second sound bite that is “re-tweetable” on Twitter? If not, go back to basics and craft a simple, clear hook that that sets you apart. Like: Google helps you find stuff better, Harley owners are a cult, Starbucks is a great place to be, Red Bull lets you party harder.
…Then intervene in conversations and respond to complaints, visibly, with your own Twitter account or some other way of interacting. It’s important that on-lookers see your response to a complaint in the open so they know that you can take care of theirs too, if they ever have one. This is where your real brand is built.

Speaking of “intervening in conversations” and building one’s brand in the transparent space of the Web, Bob Hoffman picked up on our story about Portland-based Fight and how they believe in “the right idea, not the big idea.”
Hoffman says, “Now the favorite excuse for not having an idea is technology.” It’s important to note here that he seems to be speaking generally, because Dave Allen at Fight never said anything about not having an idea. Or that technology itself was an idea. What Fight believes is we can make better use of technology to test whether or not ideas of all sizes are, in fact, working for the client.
Justin at Fight also “intervenes” on Hoffman’s site with a lengthy comment. Here’s a small part of it:

It’s not satisfying to me to pitch another micro-site, or another UCG contest, or another Facebook app that’s going to live to for a season and die. And I have no idea how that’s money well spent for my client. It’s EXACTLY this mode of thinking that leaves clients feeling like marketing is an un-trackable expense. And it’s why our budgets and timelines keep getting cut. While we may know that good creative and good design is good for business, as an industry, we’re awful at proving. Instead, we take a “trust me” attitude and end up sitting in meetings debating the aesthetic merit of our work with our clients.

The conclusion I draw is to implement lots of right ideas (big and small), then use technology to prove that the ideas are working.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.