Magazine article Communication World

Catchin's a Buzz

Magazine article Communication World

Catchin's a Buzz

Article excerpt

Buzzzzzzz. You know when you see or hear it. It's when your brand is hot, white hot. Sizzlin'. The subject of countless media stories. The word-of-mouth that moves swiftly throughout a trade show floor, or within the Internet's chat rooms. It's that "we're drivin' our competitors crazy" feeling. And even ordinary folks, like Marge, the checkout lady at the nearby Wal-Mart, are gabbin' about it. Either your brand has it or it doesn't.

It's called buzz. And it's an important aspect of brand building because it can accelerate not only the brand building process. but also sales. Buzz inspires people to call for the brochure and try your product. Ideally, at least in the short term, it places your brand in the consideration set. Ultimately, buzz can build momentum for your brand, which is critical to long-term growth, and it's just as applicable whether you're managing the business-to-business IBM "blue" brand or the Coca-Cola soda "red" brand. No one or perfect way exists to get your brand in the buzz jet stream. Sometimes it just happens. For example, who can explain the appeal of Tony Bennett among the same generation of music lovers that embraced Nirvana and Pearl Jam? But more often than not, brand buzz can be deliberately generated. Whether you're about to launch a new brand or trying to resurrect a brand on the slippery slope to Forgottenville, here are some ideas to get people talking about your brand:

Do a Brand Reality Check.

If you haven't done so in a while, conduct an "annual check-up" on your brand. Today. Pull together the research, call in the account planners, check the web, visit with customers, send the surveys, and go to the store shelves to see how your brand slacks up to the competition. Ask yourself some tough questions: Is your brand still as relevant today as it was the day it was introduced? Does it still reflect the people who purchase and use it? Are people talking about your brand? Is your brand among the top three considerations for purchase?

Who's Keeping the Flame?

As part of the your brand check-up, also take a close look at who is keeping the brand fire alive and burning. Is there at least one person who lives, sleeps, eats and showers your brand? And do the people who work with that person have the same desire to keep the brand white hot? If not, don't hesitate today to go out and find that person and give him or her the tools and resources to build the fire.

Reconnect with Your Most Loyal Enthusiasts.

Who are the most overlooked stakeholders in building brand buzz? More than likely, it's the people who spend more than one-third of their daily lives developing, manufacturing, maintaining and selling your brand. Next time you go to a party, listen carefully to what people say about their company. When employees, vendors, the sales force, analysts and shareholders are excited about your brand, the end-user will be too.

Feed the Influentials.

Influential people can have enormous power to ignite brand buzz. In many cases, their very mention of your brand can be interpreted as gospel. So it's imperative that you identify those people and get your brand in front of them. Short of kidnapping an influential, communicate regularly with these people and get them excited about your brand.

Invite Customer Feedback.

Brand building is a relationship founded on good communication. Companies that want to drive brand buzz know the importance of inviting customers into the process of creating a brand. Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks have done so for years, regularly seeking driver input through their exclusive 2,500-person driver boards. …

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