I’m a techno-wannabe. Have been all my life. As a kid, I read Popular Science and dreamed of flying cars and cold fusion. In college, back in the days before—well, everything—most of my classmates wrote their papers on typewriters. Manual typewriters.

Somehow, I weaseled my way into the good graces of people who knew how to (get this) do word processing on the Xerox mainframe buried in the library basement. If that doesn’t raise goose bumps on your arms, you must be under 45. Of course, I only learned enough programming to write the papers because, for me, the writing has always won out over the actual science.

So the summer of 2014 finds me with a stalled project to learn Google Analytics and a Twitter feed filled by NASA. Four of the five photos I’ve ever tweeted have been NASA retweets. Gotta love those cool space shots.

If you don’t follow NASA, I recommend it. They pump out a lot of interesting things: typhoons by moonlight, infographics on alien planets, and this tweet from ‏@MarsCuriosity:

“Laser zapped this rock to see what was inside. (Hint: not nougat.) http://go.nasa.gov/1rTn2rS #PewPew pic.twitter.com/NxxhGaKrXy”

That the Curiosity Rover has its own Twitter stream is one small facet of the social media brand monster that is NASA. (I use “monster” affectionately; you won’t be surprised to learn that I grew up on Godzilla movies, as well as Popular Science.)

Yet NASA faces a serious brand challenge: Its big moment was 45 years ago, when we walked on the moon and the first generation to use PCs in college was born.

I know there are some universities, colleges, and programs out there that face a similar challenge to their reputation: It’s solid, but it’s old. I mean, dinosaur-that-could-eat-Toykyo old.

How do you get people excited about your future if everything they think about you is in black-and-white or Kodachrome (or worse, linking the word “shuttle” with “disaster”)?

NASA’s got two major projects under way to renew its brand reputation—earth science and Mars. I suspect the earth science is the more solid contribution to both science and our economy, but it’s the Mars possibilities that could bring the glitter and boost NASA past the 600 million humans who watched the moonwalk on TV.

About this time last year, Buzz Aldrin wrote about his experience on the moon and his hopes for future human exploration of space. I really hope we get there in my lifetime. I mean, I’ve almost given up on the flying cars and cold fusion (almost!), but I still have hopes for the red planet. It keeps me following the NASA feed, for sure.

Where’s your Mars? How do you bring the glitter back if your reputation is built on long lost glory days? Talk to us about ways to bolster your brand—and be sure to stay ahead of Mothra.

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