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The role of branding in a social business

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The role of branding in a social business

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Often when one thinks of branding it is done so through the prism of marketing.  When combined with social business therefore it can easily get bogged down with discussions around content marketing or social media advertising.  I’ve been talking a little recently about how you can collaborate effectively with external partners, and in particular about how you can grow your collaboration network to derive more benefits from such relationships.

So, in this post, I’d like to focus on the role branding can play in such collaborations, and how you can go about improving your branding.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that status plays a big part in your external collaboration efforts.  It will allow you to attract better partners, and secure better terms with them.  Suffice to say, at the heart of any branding is you.  If you don’t have an excellent product, service, technology or capability then you’ll never have a good brand, and no amount of communication will change that.

Assuming you do have those things however, here are a few steps you can take to communicate your brand effectively, thus enhancing your status.

Be a cheerleader for your industry

Most industries have an issue that’s of particular importance to them.  If you can both identify what that critical issue is and then build an extensive communication strategy around that issue, then you can establish yourself at the bulkhead of your industry.  You should be looking to clearly communicate how you are helping the industry on this important issue.

Take the lead with industry events

Most industries have a series of events around them that bring together actors from across the industry to discuss and learn about the key issues of the age.  Whether these are conferences, seminars, exhibitions or whatever, they often bring together the key players with an interest in your industry.  Playing a part in both organising these events, and of course speaking at them, can help position your organization as a key player in the industry.  Of course, it’s not just about conferences.  Many industries for instance have task forces that aim to promote the industry or set standards for it.  Playing a prominent role in such groups can be vitally important.

As your status grows, of course, you’ll be able to put on these kind of events yourself.  For instance, a recent open innovation in pharma event I attended was put on by GlaxoSmithkline, whilst Innocentive have also hosted a regular series of events.  Yammer are hosting a series of events in London on workplace culture.  All done, no doubt, with the aim of placing themselves firmly in a high status position within their industries.

Thought leadership

As content marketing has become an ever more pervasive buzzword, the role of thought leader has become more keenly fought over.  Whilst it’s one thing for you to be writing things yourself, it’s quite another to have prominent and respected figures in your industry write about you.  Whether these are journalists, academics or even bloggers (ahem), being written about regularly and positively can do wonders for your status in your industry.

Promote your network

I’ve written previously about the power of association.  We are increasingly judged by the company we keep, and a big part of building your collaboration network is to establish working relationships with high profile partners.  When you do strike up such an alliance, it’s well worth shouting about the successes you achieve together.  This helps to highlight both who you’re working with, and also that you’re doing so successfully.  Both very useful attributes when looking to attract further collaboration partners.

These are just a few examples to get you started.  Think about the topics and issues that matter to both yourself and your industry, and give some thought to how you can project your value in that area.

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