How to build a strong social media brand – fast!

Establishing a service brand can be tougher than product branding, more so when building your brand online.
Yet, we’ve found a brand that’s almost an overnight success: MarketingChap.
What lessons can be learned from MarketingChap about building an online brand fast?

Online vs. offline branding

Everyone knows that if you are building an online brand, it needs to match your offline brand. Trevor Young recently posted on this topic and makes the very good point that authenticity is an important part of branding.

So, it can’t possibly make sense to create an online brand that deliberately keeps its offline identity secret, can it? Well, perhaps it can if it helps attract interest and curiosity.

Who is MarketingChap?

The MarketingChap brand is the online persona of a UK-based PR professional. If you haven’t come across the brand you can find him on Twitter @Marketing_Chap and on his blog at

The key visual identity is shown at the top of this post: clearly a very traditional, relaxed and perhaps somewhat insouciant man. His behaviors, as reported in his tweets and posts, suggests an upper-class, financially comfortable, effortlessly superior character, educated at an English public-school (i.e. private school for the rest of the world). In other words, a pillar of the British Establishment. Yet, he does this in a witty, approachable and relaxed manner far-removed from the stiff upper lip of the English upper classes.

He has established this strong online persona very quickly whilst maintaining a secret identity.

Although MarketingChap is insistent that his approach to building his brand is intuitive, he is making good use of well-proven secrets of building strong brands.

Feel free to borrow some of his secrets for your own brand.

Secret 1: A decisive action that demonstrates your values

Early in his incarnation, MarketingChap campaigned effectively against “social media fakery”, such as buying and selling Twitter ‘followers’. This clearly puts him on the side of ‘the good guys’ in the PR industry and certainly made me feel some warmth towards him. It was also slightly risky – making it avery credible action.

Secret 2: Vivid stories

MarketingChap frequently tweets small vignettes about his life and always introduces his blog posts with some contextual details. Here’s an example: “several chaps at the club stood me a drink or two (or three). After returning home to the manor, the valet (Perkins is his name) was dispatched to the wine cellar for a bottle of fizz or two (or three).”

These are not just anecdotes, they are detailed sketches, filled with characters more at home in a Jeeves and Wooster story than in modern social media. They are memorable characters in powerful stories.

One of the smart learnings from neuropsychology is that, if we tell people a detailed story, many of them will ‘remember’ that it actually happened to them. The magician John Mulholland once described to his audience a trick in which a coin would disappear from one side of the room and reappear on the other side. He didn’t actually perform the trick, just described it. After the show the vast majority of the audience ‘remembered’ it actually happening.

MarketingChap’s detailed descriptions help us to create very tangible memories of his world.

Secret 3: A distinctive brand world

It’s important to pay attention to how he makes the MarketingChap world distinctive: it is intended to be an old-fashioned world, far from the noise and chaos of social media. To do this, he borrows many of the associations of English upper-classes – always with a smile or tongue in cheek.

His language reflects the vocabulary and style of the public school or gentleman’s club: “A knotty problem this, old fruit, but my instinct is to cling to the ‘pearls before swine’ dictum.” He completely avoids the bullet points and short sentence that are supposedly the sine qua non of social media.

His behavior suggests effortless ease. It’s common to see a Friday afternoon tweet such as “You’ve worked hard earning your daily crust today, chaps. Time to tuck into something liquid and restorative! Off you go now!”

As well as the entourage of valets and chauffeurs that one might meet at a country house weekend, his world is filled with awfully decent people who behave in a civilized manner. These include his client Prince Michael of Sealand whose Royal Crest is proudly displayed online.

However, this is really the professional world of marketing so it’s no surprise that the brand’s visual identity pays tribute to the ‘Father of Advertising’, David Ogilvy.

Secret 4: Create a community

MarketingChap named his connections and followers ‘chaps’ and chapettes’, giving them a feeling of belonging to a community and having been invited in to his world and he encourages young people looking for positions in PR by featuring them on the ‘Good Eggs’ section of his site.

Secret 5: Consistency

Take all of the above 4 tips and they add up to an exemplary level of consistency. In fact, in our review of the brand (see below), we found this to be one of the most consistent brands we’ve seen in years.

Peeping behind the curtain

Those are just a few of the many secrets you can learn from MarketingChap.

With the help of some “chaps and chapettes”, we’ve reviewed the MarketingChap brand in more detail.

The brand works in the frenzied world of online specifically because it breaks all the supposed rules of the social media game and uses the laws of psychology instead.

He is determinedly masculine, pointedly traditional and, most powerful of all, because he’s never seen. we have all created our own versions of Mark Etingchap in our own minds and memories.

In fact, for all we know, Marketing Chap could really be a young woman working feverishly from an office above a fish and chip shop in West London!

Have a closer look at our experts’ review of MarketingChap and get more free insights tohelpwith your own brand:

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