When I grew up, my favorite brand was Coca-Cola. I also loved McDonald's and any cereal brand. The unhealthier sweeter, the better. Over time, I learned that Coke was nothing more than sugared water and McDonald's peddled really crappy food sourced through really terrible methods. Well, and cereal was nothing more than sugar in milk. My love for these brands turned into cynicism. They still created great advertising but it's hard to enjoy any commercial or online game when you have videos of tortured chicken in your head.

Branding used to involve big budgets, flashy advertising, a lot of good looking people and promises that were never kept.

This branding era is about to end.

We are about to experience a branding renaissance

Branding doesn't happen in brainstorming sessions, on TV screens or through false, beautiful worlds anymore.

A successful 21st century brand is the sum total of every interaction and touch point your target audience has with your business. The brand of a company is its persona. That persona represents everything customers can see and interact with – logos, packaging, phone call, handshake, store fronts, smiles, parking lots, advertising, etc. Each of these touch points builds an experience for your customer that works together (or not at all) to create a persona that customers can identify with.

Branding today entails these 5 pillars:

- Focusing more on stakeholder value, less on shareholder value

- Social Currency is more important than immediate profitability

- Innovation more important than messages

- Customer experience is almost everything

- Delivering constant customer value is everything.

Advertising noise will continue to be part of branding. Over time, that noise will just lead to tone deafness and the return will be minimal.

Companies that deliver on the 5 brand pillars will succeed over time. The others will fade away.

Uwe Hook is the CEO and Co-Founder of BatesHook, Inc. (www.bateshook.com) and a veteran of the advertising and marketing industry with the goal of building connections between people and brands. Uwe can be reached at uwe@bateshook.com.

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