Institutional brands vs. user generated brands

Image Borrowed from Merge Left marketing

There has been some talk for a while about brands not knowing how to work in social media. People think companies are too pushy and that they try to push their thoughts upon the users. In many cases this is a correct view. Companies do have their agenda. They want to make as much money as possible for as long as possible. This post will deal with two types of ways to ensure you build good starting blocks for your brand to succeed in social media.

The Institutional Brand
The biggest difference with this post and many others is that I recognize the need for an organization to construct their own brand. As I have said in previous posts, a brand is a composite of many raw materials. Internally, in an organization or in an institution, these raw materials are built, they are kept, and usually also written down on a piece of paper called “brand manual” or “brand guidelines”.

An institutional brand lives and flourishes within the organization. The smallest organizations often don’t think of the brand as something separate from themselves, in medium organizations the brand is perceived as the light of god, and in bigger organizations the brand becomes either the guiding star or the culture in which everyone works. Good or bad, an institutional brand is the sum of it’s raw materials and its employees.

The User generated Brand
Well.. Organizations should feel very lucky if they even have user generated brand. It means that there are people who care about them enough to form an opinion about them. The user generated brand however, does not appear until someone starts talking about it, posting about it or designing it in the way that they look upon it, in public. It might be a blog post, a photo on flickr, a tweet on twitter or just a beep in space. All accounts for the view of a user generated brand.

For search this becomes very apparent as some brands are liked enough to generate results in keyword relation tools that are semantically related to words as “love”, “adore” and “I am”. On the other hand, some brands have got the shitty edge of the stick and are related to words such as “hate”, “prison” and “f**k”.

All in all, the user generated brand becomes the sum of all public opinions of that brand.

How to work with either or
As I’ve said before, a user generated brand is best worked with by being an enabler. Allow for discussion to take place, help your fans and haters discuss your brand together. Give them the raw materials they need such as pictures, songs, logos, visions etc. Make all this public so that all facts are on the table. By providing the best resources you can control the stem of the whole discussion.

Product pictures should be made available without the company logo present, or the copyright text. (I know this might be difficult for some of you as there are copyrights with end dates.) But you can at least make available all that is yours to keep. This way you will at worst have good looking product display with word bashing from an angry blogger. You should put that in comparison with having the word bashing without the good looking product display. 🙂

For the institutional brand you have to work internally. As you know all of your employees have voices and at least 20% of them have a blog, and probably 60% of them have an account on Facebook and about 1% of them use Twitter. In any case, you know they are talking about you. If so at night during dinner. What you have to do. Is to make them engaged in what they do. They have to believe it. Cause if they don’t then no one will. They don’t have to like what they do at work, they just need to know the purpose of what they do.

They need to know that they are working for “the best xxx there is in the business of xxx”. (yes, even in the porn industry). Use artifacts such as an apple. Use phrases such “I’m lovin’ it”. Use music such as “Dick in a box…” hmm… You get the point. Put up signs on the inside of the toilet doors. People do take a crap, and when they do they have nothing else to do but to read your “shit”. (lol… I did live in Gothenburg).

I have only briefly touched upon the topic of insitutional and user generated brands. I haven’t been blogging for so long and this has gone stuck in my head for the past few days. Please comment below and we’ll make some stuff happen. I am composing some ppts for you to enjoy, but my inspiration is rock bottom right now. If anyone happen to be in NYC or in Stockholm, please give me your e-mail and we’ll meet up to chat about this.

User generated and institutional brands are very different in their composition. In the end however they are both the result of cultural exchange and understanding.

1 thought on “Institutional brands vs. user generated brands”

Leave a Comment