Branding & Marketing

I’ve always had a hard time wrapping my head around the need for branding and marketing in a library. For most of my time working in a library, I have pretty much paid the concepts very little to no attention. Our library has been doing fine. Academic libraries are generally guaranteed a certain number of patrons given that kids keep coming to college. However, over the past couple of years, I have come to believe that branding and marketing may be the most important things libraries can do in order to combat stereotypical attitudes and to provide better service. Ok, really these are THE most important things because, let’s face it, it is all about the perception. The reality doesn’t really matter as much to the world at large. There is a great branding video on the show with zefrank (found via Louis Rosenfeld.com – Bloug). This video really gives a great explanation of branding – both positive and negative. What I get from thinking about this is that libraries need to have a better brand before they can successfully market themselves to the world at large.

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2 Responses to Branding & Marketing

  1. I’ll argue–and expect to be doing so more in the future–that “libraries” don’t need a better brand.

    Rather, your library needs its own brand. Which isn’t the same as the public library’s brand in your community. Which isn’t the same as NYPL’s brand. Which isn’t the same as Santa Clara County Library’s brand…

    Every library has its distinctive community, distinctive strengths (and generally weaknesses), distinctive charactrer. I think we need to build on those distinctive characteristics.

    And, for that matter, I don’t think it’s a matter of marketing libraries to the world at large. I think it’s a matter of marketing your library to the communities in which it should matter.

    But that’s just me, and I’m no marketer.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Walt, I really like your point that each library needs it own brand. Obviously, each library has its own community or population of users with needs and wants that are unique. Building upon the distinctive characteristics of communities is important to specific libraries and their marketing strategies. If your library is important to your local constituents then it should be able to thrive.

    However, I think that the overall, more global, library brand also needs some work. Despite the fact that all libraries are different, it seems to me that the general populace tends to lump them all together.Society does have a global view of libraries – and one that isn’t really what we would hope for it to be. I don’t think that we can ignore the fact that the library generally does exist as concept already. If people of the world have a rather poor opinion of “the library,” I think that they will be less likely to actually go and use one. Whether we like it or not, we are competing in a more global way for users.

    I’m no marketer either – and I find this whole concept to be rather nebulous.

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