Brands are empty containers of meaning. Companies and marketing departments have a meaning they want the customer to  believe, and customers develop meaning through interactions, both good and bad, with the brand.

This kid has a clear view of brands she has interacted with. She has a totally different meaning than the one intended to brands with which she has little experience. The brand is empty of meaning until we fill it.

A brand is meaningless until both the company and its customers create meaning through a relationship or experience with each other. Important to note: meaning is created by both the brand AND the customers. Understanding how your followers view you is critical to developing a successful and beloved brand.

You won’t be able to understand your customer by conducting focus groups, online surveys or social mentions. You need to talk to your customers. Which means getting out of your office and meeting customers in their environment. Experiencing how they engage with the product. Self-awareness is one of the most difficult aspects of branding.

It shouldn’t be about approval. It should be about learning.