One of the most interesting topics discussed at this year’s SilkRoad Connections Conference was on the subject of tri-branding your business. Author and speaker Bob Kelleher introduced the subject during his keynote at the event.
Historically, we’ve had two kinds of business branding: consumer (whether it’s an individual or another business) and employment. Traditionally, the marketing department handles consumer branding and human resources takes care of employment branding.
Kelleher says there’s a new dimension to the branding conversation – third party branding. The third party is defined as suppliers, vendors, brand ambassadors, etc. People and companies that are engaged with your organization and share that engagement with others.
Examples I can think of include the phone company and cell phone relationship. AT&T hopes you love their service well enough to purchase your next iPhone from them. Or the JCPenney “store within a store” concept. Joe Fresh wants you to shop for their products inside a JCP store. Neither brand is changing their core offering – AT&T still sells phone service and JCP is still a retailer. But they hope that the reputation of the third party will enhance their brand.
This third leg in the branding stool isn’t exclusively consumer related. From an employment branding angle, relationships with community organizations can have an impact on the company brand.
Social media plays a role in third party branding. In fact, social media might play a significant role in how branding information is disseminated. Case in point, Blogger Sara Rosso created “World Nutella Day” to profess her devotion to the tasty hazelnut spread. First thought? What brand out there wouldn’t want a global day in their honor?
Well obviously, the legal department at Nutella. They sent her a cease-and-desist letter.
Needless to say, when Rosso explained on her blog why she was cancelling the annual tradition, the Interwebs went wild. And fortunately, Nutella came to their senses and apologized for the misunderstanding. World Nutella Day lives on. (BTW – it’s February 5 if you want to mark your calendars now.)
Businesses succeed in part because of the relationships they build with others. Yes, companies must have a terrific product or service. True, organizations must hire the best talent. But they can’t completely go it alone. Those business relationships are an important part of your brand.
The question becomes: Are you proud of those relationships? Proud enough to put your brand on the line for them?
Image courtesy of HR Bartender