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Over the last couple of years branding has changed tremendously. Not so long ago it was the C-suite agreeing on brand positioning. Carved in a key, bullet, wheel or other obscure model, positioning was translated into a communication brief and campaigns were aired to consumers. Substantial budgets were needed to reach targeted people with a certain frequency. This all started with the rise of mass media in the sixties. Meanwhile social media are the new reality. Are you ready for Social Branding? Are you prepared to ditch conventional branding methods?

With the rise of the networked society, organizations are becoming more and more transparent. If they like it or not. Gone are the days that the brand positioning portrayed to the outside world could be different from the internal organizational identity. More importantly, if suppliers, employees or customers are unhappy with your services or products and the way you deal with them, this can skyrocket on social media. And also positive stories can spread readily through the grapevine.

In this connected world it will be 'people' (mobile, 24/7) who create, manage and communicate your brand. Not any longer your communications department with their creative agencies. Your brand has just gone social.

A social dialogue is quite different from traditional communications. First, you cannot 'air' a dialogue for a certain period. Instead to keep the conversation going, you will need lots of fresh branded content. And second, you will need to listen to the reaction of people. Does it excite them? Do they share it? Do they re-use your story in their own creations?

This new social branding reality poses significant challenges for organizations and their brands. But also for their brand strategy consultancies. Strategists cannot use any longer their outdated positioning and segmentation models, brand research methodologies and brand documentation. Nor can they develop brand strategy in isolation from people, behind closed doors, secretive.

Also brand strategists will have to embrace social technology to facilitate, monitor and promote discussion with people, both inside and outside your organization, to jointly discover significant meaning and purpose. They will have to develop new models, methods and tools to identify and to unleash the organization's emotive core. This emotive core will be the pumping heart to fuel passion of people. In this new social era, the people are the brand. You better start the dialogue now.