Editor's note: Andrew Mager is reporting from the Future of Web Apps (FOWA 2010) conference, held in Miami from February 22 to 24. Click here to read all of his coverage.
FOWA speaker Alex Hunter delivered the following advice on developing a powerful brand. Most of this is just direct quotes from Hunter:
(The uncensored version of this post lives here)
Why the hell should I care about marketing? I'm a developer.
Marketing is the cancer on the ***** of creativity. You cannot afford to take your eye off your brand for one second. No excuses.
This is 100% relevant to our industry because we are directly responsible for changing it. We have managed to completely change the way marketing and branding has worked with the web industry.
Who do you love? What brand do you love? What product/organization/charity could you not live without? Which brand can you connect to. How are you going to get the consumer to love you and your brand? You are gonna have to work your ass off.
Back in the 50s, we just had billboards. You couldn't like, comment on, or retweet those. Our parents and grandparents took it as gospel. Smoke cigarettes to make yourself feel better. We have been fitted with very good bull**** detectors.
Social networking is not about connecting with brands; it's about people. This isn't a new thing.
How much do you care about your brand? Will you risk your reputation. You have to believe every single day that you are creating the best experience in the history of the world.
[Who needs] consistency? It's not Dogma, it's a state of mind, like winning. Your app is not the be all and end all. Don't believe that "if you build it they will come". Build up a voice and a personality around your app. You have to extend your read with your content. Give it some identity. Keep it real and transparent. When shit goes wrong, own up to it. People will forgive you and trust you.
Digg is successful because everyone on their team blogs. Their transparency is overwhelming. Diggnation takes it a step further by extending their brand to people all over the world. They have beers with their fans. You don't have to be as big as Digg to create this kind of loyalty though.
Bridging the gap between online and offline breeds loyalty.
Branding does not equal name or logo.
Your values are going to be the foundation of what you are and what you always will be. It's easy to half-ass this, but don't.
Ethical means giving your users what they deserve.
Balance your values and your brand will be successful. Never stop listening to your users.
The development process is like a soap opera. There's emotion there. Opening up the doors and letting people into your experience will make people evangelize on your behalf.