One of last week's reading assignments in Marketing in the Groundswell by Li and Bernoff had a section that really jumped out to me. The section was a direct quote from a man named Ricardo Guimaraes, who was the founder of Thymus Branding in Brazil. This quote said that branding belongs to the market (consumers) and not to the company. It continued with, the company is a closed-structure and the brand is an open structure. The point I got from the section seemed to be a rhetorical question: "how could something that has a closed structure and mind set manage something that has such an open structure?"
My answer to this not so rhetorical question is: companies CAN manage a brand, but not by themselves. I am definitely disagreeing with Mr. Guimaraes. It is not just the market that brands a company or product; it is a team effort that starts with the company and ends with the market. The company put all of the beginning work into the product or line by advertising, marketing, press releases, etc. They form what they want the product to be known for, giving the consumers or market a basis of whether to buy the product or not.
After the product or line is released, it is then the company's responsibility to try and maintain the original brand it had in mind. In my view, the company is responsible for the initial brand and maintaining it. A good example of new branding can be seen on infomercials. During an infomercial, they do previews on new products, other customers' reviews, and how much it will benefit the buyer. These positive outlooks from the company to the market allow the market to be more comfortable with investing in the product. If the company has high expectations and a lot of faith, it will be seen from the public view, resulting in higher sales.
Now for the market... I do believe that out of the company and the market, the market has the most influence on how the product's brand will end up. The market or consumers are the ones who give into the first brand set out by the company and invest in the product or line. The consumer buys and uses products that have caught their eye by the way the company first portrayed the line. This is the part where the ball called branding is thrown into the market's court. Now the market has the product and EVERYONE seems to have his or her own opinions.
After using the product, whether a good or bad experience, people will have something to say in regards to the product and the company. These thoughts are put into blogs, Facebook statuses, Twitter updates, letters to the company, and sent through the grapevine. These different outlets allow for the market/ consumer to shape the brand even more because they have such a huge impact on future sales. To continue with the infomercial example, when the buyer receives the product they have high expectations of this new item because of what they saw and heard on the ad. If the product reaches their expectations (which often it seems infomercial products do not), then it might be portrayed in the earlier mentioned outlets. Most of the time, if the market/ consumer is happy the companies will not here any feedback. Sadly, if the product does not match the hope the market had in it, then the disappointment will be heard about from every angle possible. Maybe no news is good news?
Even though Marketing in the Groundswell has a lot of accuracy and great support to back up beliefs, I stand by opinion that branding is not a market only thing. Branding is a team effort from the company's initial brand idea and marketing process to the feedback of the market/ consumers both good and bad. Both sides keep each other in check to make sure that ultimately the consumer is happy and the company is putting out the best product it possibly can.