The Difference Between Good and Great Branding in the 21st Century

School’s starting up next week, so I’ve decided to get ahead of the game and getting started on some readings. I am currently working on Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge‘s book “Putting the Public Back in Public Realtions: How Social Media is Reinventing the Aging Business of PR.” It’s gotten me thinking about how we communicate ourselves to our audience, whether it’s simply to our family or friends, or to a larger audience such as investors or consumers.

I decided to do a little twitter research, ‘twi-search’ perhaps we could call it. I checked in on one of my favorite brands, Kiehl’s. I’ve been following their @KiehlsNYC page for awhile now, but I wanted to see what else they had out there. What I found was there were almost 20 different Kiehl’s pages, spanning all over the world from Canada to South Korea to Germany. Also, their President, VP and members of the PR team are accesible via twitters as well. Clearly, not all of the pages are as advanced as others, but the idea is all there. This is clearly a brand that has made an impression.

The team behind the @KiehlsNYC page are constantly engaging customers, notifying them of  upcoming events and answering questions about their skincare concerns. Often, they will have representatives featured on their page such as the President, @ChrisAtKiehls, who will be answering questions about the brand. It’s not very often that we little consumers have the opportunity to engage in conversation with a head honcho, so this tells us just how important the customer is to them.

Now, I am also a cosmetician at Shoppers Drug Mart. I have been following their @ShoppersDrugMart page for awhile now, so I wanted to see what other media outlets were out there to support the brand. I am fairly good at finding things, and I could not find any other pages that support Shoppers. For those who don’t know, Shopper Drug Mart is a  Canadian pharmacy brand that can be found all over Canada, with it’s Head Office located just outside of Toronto. One of the company’s major sources of income is their beauty department, which holds almost every major brand on the market and has proven itself to be a leader in the business with it’s rewards program. Why does it not have a twitter account for their cosmetic department?!

Now I am not comparing Kiehl’s and Shoppers Drug Mart, as they have different roles in the marketplace. What I am comparing, however, is the customer outreach. Considering how much I love my job in the beauty department and how much fun customers have just browsing around the department, we need to be reaching out to people more. Solis and Breakenridge state in their book that PR is not about spewing press releases anymore and hiding behind news outlets- it’s about engaging with the customer and listening to what they want. When customer’s feel included, it will improve loyalty and trust. If Shoppers reached out more to the public through todays social media outlets, they could build an even larger, more diverse following that allows the consumer to be a part of what the brand is all about.

Here in Canada, Shoppers has to compete with The Bay, Sears,  Sephora and even Walmart with their beauty departments and loyalty programs. Shoppers has developed a strong customer following, however younger customers can find the prices too high and decide to go elsewhere, which is something I see all the time. Shoppers is big on customer service within the store and we pride ourselves on reaching out to customers, but that service can be expanded externally as well. I know Shopper’s carries hundreds of skincare and makeup brands, why not show off how confident we (Shoppers) are with the things we carry by expanding in social media to educate consumers more about what we offer.

I’m using Shoppers as an example since I know the company very well, but this can apply to any brand out there. It’s important to make yourself heard and have the respect of the public through all outlets. This is the day and age where we, the consumer, have a big role to play in the marketplace.  The time is now for us to be listened to.

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