The Unbundling of Your Brand

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Once upon a time, you’d buy an album. Maybe that album had a hit single in stores, but for the most part, you bought the album.

Once upon a time, you watched a network. Sure, you skipped around at commercials, but largely your TV stayed tuned to one channel that night.

Once upon a time, there was a single Facebook app. Everything you did on Facebook, you did in one app.

Today, assuming you buy any music at all and don’t just stream stuff, you buy by the song. You fire up iTunes or Google Play or your music vendor of choice and you purchase a track.

Today, you have a favorite TV show, but chances are you watch shows wherever they are. Maybe they’re on the actual television. Maybe they’re in Hulu or Amazon Prime or Netflix. But your loyalty is to the show, not to the channel it’s on.

Today, you have a Facebook app for everything. Pictures? Instagram. Messages? Messenger. Your page? Page Manager. Video? Hyperlapse. News? Facebook news? Paper. It’s not just Facebook, either. If you used to use Foursquare, now you have a couple of different Foursquares to deal with. If you used to use LinkedIn, now you have Pulse, Connected, CardMunch, and the regular app.

We’ve dismantled the monolith and unbundled it into tiny, bite-sized pieces that serve specific purposes. As consumers, we’ve come to expect that we can pick and choose just the pieces we want and leave the rest behind. This is equally true of content marketing, when you think about it. How often do you actually subscribe to blogs, websites, or newsletters, versus just seeing things passively come into your social network’s feeds?

So here’s the big idea to consider. Have your consumers, your customers already unbundled your brand?

For some customers, your brand may be your blog and nothing else. That’s all they want, and it may be all they ever want. They may never buy something directly from you. For some customers, it’ll be one product and one product alone. Apple has convinced a lot of people to buy iPhones, but an iPhone owner isn’t necessarily an iPad or Mac owner. For some customers, it might be certain select, individual tweets you make regularly. To them, that is the entirety of your brand to them and that’s all they ever want it to be. If you have multiple bloggers on your blog, one author might be your entire brand to them. I know I do that to some blogs – there are some authors I flag right away to read, and others fall in the “I’ll get around to reading them” and never do. I’ve unbundled that blog to pay attention only to certain pieces of it.

How do you know if your customers have unbundled your brand for you? Ask them. Survey them, call them, have some focus groups, buy them coffee – whatever it takes to ask them how they’re experiencing you.

Should you pursue an unbundling strategy, of intentionally making lots of little pieces? If you have the bandwidth and capability to do so, it’s not a bad idea to at least consider. If a valuable audience segment absolutely, positively loves your email newsletter and nothing else, then polish that newsletter up until it shines, because the likelihood you’ll get increased word of mouth is fairly high:

The one thing you shouldn’t do is force bundling on your customers and consumers. You’re swimming against the current, against the way people have grown accustomed to buying, to consuming, to enjoying their favorite brands. Can you refuse to let pieces of your marketing content be unbundled? Sure. You can stop Tweeting or blogging or sending emails, or have one and only one monolithic take-it-or-leave-it content plan. But in doing so you risk losing the interest of the hordes of people looking for their favorite aspect of you, and that’s a dangerous risk to take.

Unbundling is the reality. How you react to it will determine how well your audience can enjoy their favorite parts of you.

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