Branding is dead. Really?

Over at gapingvoid, Hugh “branding is dead” Macleod says that branding is dead. In fact, it’s his middle name. He bases this proposition on the fact that companies that support blogging suck at branding while companies with superlative brands suck at (or don’t even allow) branding.

I don’t agree that branding is dead. Branding is really all about creating a set of feelings and beliefs about a product. It takes a great deal of money and effort to do that, and it only works if the company continuously maintains the image. Tylenol’s brand could have been destroyed years ago (long before blogging) when product tampering occurred, but through swift decisive action focused on customer safety they maintained their product image. I haven’t seen blogs build a full scale brand yet, although they have certainly contributed to raising awareness of the good or the bad of some products. Even recently created brands like Google have were not created by blogging, although bloggers are certainly working to keep them honest.

He also quotes Robert Scoble on the subject. Robert says:

One, watching blogs gives you an indication of what the greater society is doing and talking about (if you read enough of them and they are randomly enough selected — I’m not there yet, but I’m getting close).

Two, blogs can feed the conversation and amplify it. Look at all the talk about Audiovox cell phones in the past five days. Did you notice that AT&T is sold out? I did.

We need to realize that blogs don’t represent what the greater society is doing and talking about. Blogs represent a well-educated technologically aware, and probably younger, demographic as opposed to an unbiased cross-section. And one with the desire and wherewithall to go out and invest in new technology. There are lots of companies that maintain excellent brands every day without blogs. Will Anheuser-Busch, Nike, Gap, or Heinz Ketchup sell any more if they have a blog? Would blogging make any difference to their brands? My kids will still buy Nike either way.