Whose Brand Are You Building?

Use social media! It is a commandment for modern brand management.   And brand managers have heeded the commandment.  They have community managers scouring the net. We have @comcastcares responding to the tsunami of hate people spew out on Twitter.  I mention steam cleaning my floors and suddenly Luna flooring social media types are reaching out to me.  Even airports have taken up the call to arms and have people monitoring the social web.

Watching TV I saw a commercial for PetSmart.  They are running a social media promotion and want PetSmart customers to tell stories about how a PetSmart associate helped them.  They want photos or stories about experiences customers have had in their stories.  It is the ‘Happiness in Store’ contest and it is a great simple idea for a bit of community building.

Okay, yes, I can find fault with this as it isn’t really building community but I’m going to hold off on that bit of criticism and address the bigger issue I saw.  At the end of the commercial, a commercial PetSmart paid for, they put up the address for the contest: www.facebook.com/PetSmart.  So, whose brand is being built here?  PetSmart or Facebook?  Both? Did Facebook help pay for the commericial?  That really is a possibility but ultimately, this isn’t the best way to manage your brand.  Constantly telling people to go to Facebook or Twitter or some other third party in order to interact with your brand is weak.

Does this mean don’t use those services? Absolutely not! They are powerful and wonderful services that you should embrace when they benefit the brand.  Just consider how you tell people to get to those services. Why not have a petsmart.com/happinessinstore address that redirects to the Facebook page?

Maybe I haven’t fully thought this through? Maybe there is a valid reason to promote Facebook.  Maybe it has SEO consequences (have I told you that I despise SEO and feel since Google is looking for good content, make good content, and Google will work to find it?) but I doubt it.  At the end of the day, you need to own your brand and make sure your customers, users, guests know you own your brand.

What say you?