Books is Not Your Brand

Businesses and organizations have some pretty recognizable stuff. McDonald’s has their hamburger. Nike has their swooshy logo and their “just do it” tagline. Google has their search engine. Apple has the iPhone.

These things – products, logos, and taglines – aren’t brands. They are products, consumables, and marketing projects. They are things the company produces.

But what’s a brand? Here are some definitions:

  • “A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization” (from gist brands)
  • “… your brand is a story, a set of emotions and expectations and a stand-in for how we think and feel about what you do” (from Seth Godin)
  • “The perceived emotional corporate image as a whole” (from JUST Creative)

So when I hear someone say that a library’s brand is books, it irks me a bit. Because it’s simply not true. Yes, books are a very recognizable thing that libraries have; a major “product,” if you will. But having a collection of books is just one thing we do out of many.

And these days, you can get books pretty much anywhere: at Walmart, at the grocery store, or through a click on my Kindle app. Having access to a bunch of books isn’t really a unique thing anymore.

I love what Blackcoffee says about brands and products in their blog post, A Product is Not a Brand:

“Many companies fail to achieve their branding goals because they mistake their brand for their product, service or technology. Simply put, a brand is none of these! A brand is an experience that lives at the intersection of promise and expectation. Your products are a way to deliver upon that promise. Forget features, concentrate on the unique experience you can provide.”

Don’t mistake a major product – your book collection – as a brand. Because it’s not. Even better – go the extra mile (or two, or three) and work to define your library’s brand. Then see where that takes you!

More information on Branding:

Book image by Dawid Palen

One Difference between Twitter and Facebook

Somebody recently asked me about Twitter for their library (which lead to my last post and this one). As I was answering her question about social media strategy, I said (a version of) this:

Facebook is a bit more conducive to “branded conversations.” Facebook can be highly visual, and the conversations are a bit more contained and threaded (i.e., comments and likes go underneath the actual post). If you’re not into one conversation, move to the next.

Twitter, on the other hand, is just the raw conversation as it happens. Sure, it can be visual and sorta-kinda threaded now, but it’s still (in my mind, anyway) pretty much real-time text-based conversation.

What’s that mean? For Facebook, you can insert some branded, “market-y” stuff, and not really bother anyone (as long as you have other content too!). It’s expected.

But with Twitter, if an organization starts sounding market-y – if they are mainly using Twitter as a broadcast tool to push out their programs and services – those tweets will stick out like a sore thumb.

That’s a great way to be ignored – fast – on Twitter.

Megaphone pic by Gene Han

 

Make your Stuff Obvious

This sign was at our local shopping mall. Like any good blogging geek, I stopped and took a picture of it – to the chagrin of my kids, I’m sure (“Mom – Dad’s taking pictures of signs again!” – eye roll!)

But the sign made me think of a few things that I thought I’d share:

  1. The sign is nicely done – large, easy-to-read words.
  2. Just an interesting side-note – the sign’s in the shape of a smartphone. A few very short years ago, a phone that did wifi wouldn’t have made any sense. But we all easily get it now, don’t we?
  3. The message is clear, the service is obvious, the sign is hard to miss. You know exactly what they’re advertising.

Contrast that with the average wifi sign in a library. In most of our libraries, we make little, tiny, dinky-winky signs that say “wifi.” Usually provided to us by our wifi vendor. If we have signs at all [hmm… I wonder what our wifi signs look like? I’ll need to check].

But at the mall … where they really want you to stay awhile … the wifi sign is HUGE. This sign was almost as tall as me, folks! And right out in the walkway, standing close to the food courts (one place people would possibly use wifi for an extended period of time).

What do they want you to do at the mall? Stay awhile. Eat some food. Use their free wifi. And buy more stuff!

Now translate that to a library. What do we want our customers to do? Stay awhile? Eat more food (if you have a cafe)? Read/watch/listen to/download more content? Ask us questions? Attend our events? Probably all of those things (though I’ll bet most of us don’t spell those goals out quite like that).

Define what it is you want your customers to do, then make your branding, your promotion, your signage – what you want people to do while engaging with you – make it obvious.

People are Human, Brands (and Organizations) not so much

I recently read this post, Why your nonprofit needs a personality and NOT a brand, on John Haydon’s blog. Here’s a snippet:

“Most of the people you connect with on Facebook and Twitter are your friends. They’re people. They have personality.

And I bet that you spend 95% of your time connecting with people – not companies. And even when you do connect with a company, your best experiences are defined by the people who work at that company (think Zappos).”

Reading that made me think – how does my library work on giving our organization “personality?” How are we, as a system, acting more like people rather than an organization?

Hard question, huh?

Here’s what we’re doing (off the top of my head). What can you add to this list?

  • Blog-based content focused on our collection and events. Our content creators’ personalities shine through in their writing.
  • we include pictures and full names for every blog post. Same with our public-facing staff directory. This allows our customers to connect with actual people. And it works – I get emails and phone calls from customers wanting to talk to the “techie dude” every week.
  • We send staff out in the community. We do this through our bookmobiles and other vehicle-based delivery, through offsite programs and events, and through our speakers’ bureau. Again, this gives a face to the library.
  • We have an Ask Now button pretty much everywhere on our website and catalog that connects to IM chat reference.
  • We use multimedia – pictures of events, videos, etc. Visual ways to introduce staff to customers, and to make our library more personal to customers.
  • We share what us librarians are reading, using Goodreads and LibraryThing widgets (think staff picks – see examples here and here).
  • And of course, we’re using social media – Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc.

So – that’s some of the things we’re doing to create a Face2Face connection with our customers.

What would you add? What’s your library doing? Please share!

photo of smiling people by Bigstock

SXSWi2008, Day 3: Social Networking and your Brand

Coolness – they’re taking questions during the presentation using twitter – twitter.com/snayb4sxsw – great use of twitter!

panelists:
Paul Boag, Jina Bolton, Mark Norman Francis, Steve Ganz, Steve Smith

Defining social networking
it’s something we’ve done forever – even before the web

ways to use personal brand
not just logos and letterhead
your brand is simply the promise of an experience

ways to use personal brand:
Boag – his company used his personal brand to push some stuff out, because he was already well known in the field

Names
some brand themselves by their personal name – some have to use different names/personas to stand out from the crowd (Steve Smith talking here)

[me talking – that’s why I use my middle name – it helps differentiate me from the millions of other David Kings out there]

Then you have to be consistent – always use that name

Tips & Tricks:

Pics – use a consistent avatar/icon/thumbnail pic, too.

Commenting – can affect your brand. Some people leave rude comments… you can be polite…. this type of thing can leave good or bad impressions of you.

SOme people give up when they don’t immediately become internet famous – you have to be consistent, and keep keep it going – it’s lots of work.

Represent your self as who you are – be yourself.

Keep your attitude the same as if you were speaking to someone face to face

when it’s a personal brand, you have to watch what you do – don’t necessarily want “I’m wasted” in the same place where potential clients are watching/reading…

stuff can get taken out of context – be careful what you twitter…

Tools:
twitter is used much (the linkdin guy said this)
Paul (a podcaster) says Podcasting!
Campfire, email, IMs, private chatrooms
Bolton – twitter, IM, etc are NOT social networks – they enable social networking – nice differentiation

How do we deal with all these pieces out there?
Reserving your name – dangerous to not get your name in that social space – you want to grab it up before someone else does.

Is it a detriment to get it and then not use it? Not necessarily

The Real World
How do you keep in touch? Email feels too formal. Paul uses Twitter and flickr – you can sort of follow their lives without interrupting their lives so much – and then when you meet up with them again, you have something to talk about

Paul takes business cards he gets at conferences, puts them in his contacts list, and finds a pic online to associate it with – helps him put a name and a face together

Lots of the panelists mentioned flickr as a great way to know the person, know their lives

Balance between private and public stuff
be aware
use the privacy controls if needed
bring out personality, who you are rather than specifics…
you have control of what you put out online