Branding vs. Bragging

We are living in a brand eat brand world. With social media leveling the playing field, brands now have to go above and beyond to get noticed. What can brands to do to win over new customers and to keep the ones that they already have? There are many answers to this but two that are distinct to me include offering great content and building valuable relationships via engagement and customer service. Both content and service should be at the core of many brands. The way that a certain brand relates to its audience says a lot about their branding. It says that they care. It says that they are interested in the thoughts of their consumers and not just about dollar signs. It says that they value the brand-consumer relationship.

As I work in social media, I pay attention to more and more brands in the online space. I like to watch trends. I like to see what works and what needs work. I enjoy trying to figure out the target audience for certain brands and then thinking about what the best way is to talk to them. What kind of communication style will have an impact on any particular audience? What will keep a pair of eyeballs on a brand’s fan page or Twitter account? What will make people want to come back for more?

One thing that, in my opinion, does NOT work is bragging. I see this all the time. I am not referring to the occasional mention of accomplishments or excitement over reaching a goal. That is completely reasonable, expected and exciting! What I am talking about is when brands consistently mention their number of followers, their number of Facebook fans or some other statistic as their measurement of success. While having a large, authentic and organic audience is certainly helpful, if the core brand values are not displayed consistently then the numbers lose value.

As I write this post, I have a few brands in mind. I can go to their pages and, in any given post, there is some mention of their Klout score, their number of blog post clicks or the number of people who have clicked on one of their Facebook ads. In other words, there are frequent mentions of numbers and percentages. Things like that might be impressive to the brand but what does it say to potential customers?

When I search social media for reviews about Brand A, I do NOT (for the most part) trust the reviews from the brand itself. Of course they are all going to be positive. I like hearing from other people who want to be social and talk about their experiences with Brand A. They say that the proof is in the pudding and the pudding is not about numbers. Brand A can have thousands of “fans” but not be converting those fans into happy customers. I think that the pudding is the feedback from people who have had experiences with Brand A and from, as I said above, the content that Brand A publishes combined with their engagement efforts. If I see THAT then I am more likely to be sold.

What do you think? Do you see brands brag online and how do you feel about it? Do numbers win you over or do you think that they are a way of bragging or offering “fluff?”


  • Nice post, Lauren.  And … agreed.  I think we might’ve touched on this during the taping of Rockstar at Red this week: I’m all about ‘quality over quantity.’  And as far as bragging is concerned, it’s for kids.

    Thanks for posting!

  • Great post Lauren.  I too think that bragging is a useless approach that just leaves a bad taste for the brand.  Let the quality speak for itself!

  • Roberta Budvietas

    Lauren, there has always been fluff in promotion. But for many businesses, the person is the brand and therefore they have to avoid fluff and puff and be real. The whole branding equation is so important because without a brand, you and your business are invisible

  • Well, it’s simple really…what’s better: to have 500 fans who actually see, care and interact with your message – or 5000 fans who largely don’t care about a word you say? Like so much in life, so is social media: QUALITY over QUANTITY. Yes, a big number always looks good (to the guru’s) when trying to impress a client…but in real world value…meh.

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