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By Scott Reavely

“A brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.”
– The Brand Flip, page 133

My first job on the plains of Central Montana was in branding. In fact, I was in charge of brand flipping. The cowboys would bring the calves to us. We’d flip them and hold them down while they applied a hot iron to their flank.

Of course, that’s where branding started (and not just for me). The Ranch owned it. Business borrowed the term – and they owned the brand. Marty Neumeier, in The Brand Flip, rescues branding, not just from the cattle ranch, but from traditional ways companies view branding.

He insists that social media has handed the power of the brand to the consumer. While I always thought of a brand as a product (Old Spice aftershave, Campbell’s tomato soup) or a symbol (a Nike swoosh or a Starbucks goddess), he claims the product or symbol is no longer the tool of the company to establish the brand, but the tool of the consumer with which they build and broadcast their own identity.

Neumeier identifies ten new realities that shape the way the customer and company interact around products. The key idea is interact. No longer is selling or advertising one-directional. It is flipped!

For instance, the old branding could be represented by a marketing funnel. He suggests the flipped brand is best understood as a ladder, something a customer climbs, rather than a tool for a company to market or sell. The rungs of the ladder are satisfaction, delight, engagement, and empowerment. The ladder gives the customer control of their experience instead of a passive funnel.