Getting an Eye on Brand Facts vs. Opinion

Marcus Aurelius took over the Roman Republic in 169 A.D. relying on stoic wisdom and philosophic thinking to lead his people.  Although Aurelius lived long before the age of the technological revolution, his words still resonate. “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact,” said Aurelius. “Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”

One of the goals of marketing is to help shape the public’s perspective of your organization.  As harsh and often confusing as this seems, their perception is more important than the truth of your organization. As an extremely high profile and respected athletic director once said, “Kathleen, why should we care about what the fans think? They don’t know what they’re talking about. They don’t know the facts!” Granted this was many years ago before the tidal wave of citizen journalism swallowed traditional marketing and PR disciplines whole, but there are key decision makers who still fall down on the side of that AD. On the other side, Michigan’s Interim AD acknowledged that his predecessor, former pizza CEO Dave Brandon was ousted in part, because the institution couldn’t ignore the cacophony calling for Brandon’s head. The ripple effects are just beginning. But that reality better stay top of mind for his successor.

Although the truth behind the brand is important, that “truth” can’t have impact unless you intentionally and consistently shape your brand’s perspective.  If honor and integrity run through the veins of your organization, but outsiders perceive it as dishonest or edging towards corrupt, the truth is lame. In our culture, the perception of reality is more powerful than the truth. The standard advertising campaign won’t change that. A series of emails that regularly land in your target’s junk mail box won’t do it anymore…nor will a highway billboard or stadium video board convince the masses.    

Despite its power, neither will social media alone. Like arms and legs, hands and feet, it takes multiple parts working together to move your brand forward. Social media and, in a broader sense, digital and mobile are gifts to today’s marketing departments. The muscle behind integrated social media outreach offers various avenues to shape your brand in a manner that’s more convincing in 2014 and beyond.  You now have the ability to develop and execute a strategy that simultaneously shapes the perspective across various socioeconomic, ethnic, and age demographics.  How well are you using it, and does it transcend your core constituency?  How well does it reach and engage teenagers, working moms, African-American fathers, seniors, those who make over $75,000 a year, etc.? Can you expect to reach millennials without going mobile?

It’s not really a matter of neglecting social media as much as not fully embracing it as a brand shaper. And as a side note: using social to only broadcast your message instead of listening to and engaging fans (and would-be fans), is like turning the key but never stepping through the front door.

Remember Marcus Aurelius’s words, “Everything we see is a perspective.” The public will have a perspective of your organization. The questions to ask: will that perspective be the one it deserves? Will it authentically propel your organization forward?

If we use all available means to shape the public’s perception of our brand across various digital outlets, we’ll strengthen that brand through the voices of our advocates. “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact.”  Facts matter, but opinions matter more in shaping perspective.  What people see and what people hear shape their view of your brand.  So in the spirit of Marcus Aurelius, ask yourself, “What does the public see and hear about you? Is their perception reality?

“If not, how big is the gap and how are you going to close it?”

Don’t be shy. If you’re interested in reassessing, reinventing or just refurbishing your brand, we would love to hear from you.  The Sports and Entertainment fields are our sweet spots, but we don’t stop there. We would be happy to talk with you about any of our services. Check us out at  Call us at 704-541-5942, or you can reach us through our social media and email as well.

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