Samplings from the Branding Buffet

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Branding and online branding are feasts that can currently be prepared and served in a billion different ways. Like any appetizing treat, some actually have real substance while others are just filler.

An article in the New York Times on Sunday profiled the way products get placed in films and on television in today’s saggy market. It showcases how films like Up in the Air mention Hilton hotels and American Airlines in exchange for covering the costs of marketing the movie. The process of branding in films and television has to start early these days to help get many creative projects off the ground.  It certainly is a sign of the times that relying on corporate entities for backing is a priority that now starts in pre-production. It is a different world from when ET and Elliot nibbled on Reeses’ Pieces. Personally, I find it a tad depressing that Hollywood is so stressed out about box office receipts that they have to pad scripts with products just to insure a profit.

Online branding in its own right has now become responsible for carrying the heavy lifting when it comes to product promotion. Even an old reliable cash cow brand like Disney has had to get on board with aggressive online branding or get left in the dust. The house that mouse built has popped up on Facebook with 3 million or so fans and with a page that features promos for all things Disney related as well as vidoes and user participated polls and content. To entice their ever growing Hannah Montana/Jonas Brothers crowd, the brand has also had to embrace Twitter and Youtube as well as talks of a Hulu-esque destination that would serve as a hub for classic films and favorite television programs. Online branding serves a giant like Disney well since they have their fingers in multiple pies at all times and therefore can use the multitude of avenues to reach out to customers.

Online branding via social media, however, is also changing. The slumps and shake-ups facingBebo and Digg are telll-tale signs that social media has boiled down to a survival of the fittest. Twitter notwithstanding, Facebook has become the catch all destination for all things social media.  Hoping tons of other Internet users will link your articles via Digg or similar sites is now like hoping that the tooth fairy will slip an iPad under your pillow. It simply ain’t gonna happen.  Playing the Facebook game cannot be avoided anymore. Brands that attack it with gusto and use it to their advantage are speaking to the customers on a daily basis.

As we continue to throw spaghetti against the proverbial wall and pray that something sticks, you have to wonder if branding in the traditional sense is a concept of years gone by. Yet like any good buffet, branding encourages us to put more on our plate and try new things.

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