Wikipedia Consulting

Wikipedia and the difference between advertising and brand marketing

As a brand marketing expert, you know your company Wikipedia article represents a major element of your brand. But you may not know where it fits it, and whether you can manage the information readers will find there. I was recently interviewed by Authority Magazine on building a brand and Wikipedia’s role in that brand-building process. Here’s an excerpt from that article. (The full article can be found here.)

Authority: In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)?

Advertising content is completely within your control. The elements of brand marketing can range all over the map, and it’s up to you, the brand manager, to manage them so the messages are consistent.

Wikipedia is a great example of branding vs. advertising. Wikipedia rules prohibit any hint of advertising speak in an article, and any p.r. or brand


Dan Cook

marketing person who tries to add blatant marketing language to an article may well be banned from editing forever.

BUT, a paid editor who understands Wikipedia’s rules of engagement can manage an article for a client. The article will never be under your control. But you can influence what is in there by working effectively with the volunteer community. And because people trust what they read on Wikipedia, a well-done article that is honest, accurate, well sourced, and up to date has more influence that most advertising vehicles.

Authority: Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?

Your brand is a collaboration between you, the brand manager, and everyone else who touches the company. That includes customers, employees and ex-employees, leadership, the media, your business partners. And anyone who visits or edits your Wikipedia article — even competitors.

Your brand is the chatter these parties create about you in the marketplace. You can create the messaging you prefer, but you can only manage, not control, your brand once it leaves your advertising/marketing platforms.

Brands must be cultivated, nurtured, monitored, discussed. Advertising is easy compared to managing social media chatter, Wikipedia content, Yelp! reviews, and what competitors and critics say about you. But advertising is seen as the company’s viewpoint only. No one is fooled that it is the whole story. That’s why non-advertising elements, like Wikipedia, are so vital to success in the marketplace.

These other voices outside of the advertising world form a chorus that adds up to credibility in the minds of your potential customers, clients, employees, potential investors, and partners. The chatter world trusts what it reads in Wikipedia. That’s why you cannot ignore what’s there. That’s why our Wikipedia service exists: to help companies manage their reputations on the world’s most-read source of trusted information.

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