These are our thoughts and we hope they clarify more than they confuse.
It always interests me to hear people talking about today’s marketing landscape, particularly in the context of the new conversations opened to marketers and their customers through the growth of social media.
Inevitably phrases like “you no longer control your brand” are thrown around and I’m sure on face value it all sounds pretty frightening. That is until you stop and consider the essence of what a brand is and the truths about managing a brand that have held since someone first stamped a little identifier on a piece of soap in the village market some time in the middle ages.
Our customers own our brand
Despite what we’d love to think; we have never owned our brands. While we may own and direct many of the factors that shape the market’s perception of our brands – our brand is essentially the connection between our customers and us that lives in their minds and is defined by them.
Sure we need to have well founded and clearly developed plans that seek to shape this perception and roll them out through tactics covering the famous P’s of marketing but, as always, there are aspects of a brand’s perception that are not in our control. We can influence, and hopefully are in the balance successful in guiding, these perceptions but we can’t control them in the absolute sense.
That’s why integration is so vital. Anything out of synch with how we frame our brands stands out immediately today and in being incongruous, thereby damages or dilutes the perception we are trying to achieve. What you say in your ads and through your promotions on social or other media, must be reinforced by the experience in your stores, on your site, by your pricing model and in your staff training and development. And that’s just to name a handful.
One thing is certain: in this new digital era, when you have an aspect of your brand that is out of step with where it should be, you risk not only being called out on it by the customers who notice but also by all who they are able to reach and influence, now massively magnified through social and digital channels.
As has always been the case though, the best protection is to know exactly what you wish your brand to be and be ruthless in planning all aspects of your business to unite in reinforcing the correct perception.
Businesses who have strong understanding of what their brands truly are to their customer and who bring this to life consistently across all factors of their business, internal and external will prosper. Slippages will be punished as they always have been and sure, these days the potential for a slippage to reach a broad level of consciousness is higher than ever. But, understand where your brand needs to sit, understand all the possible elements that could influence success: be true to this, be vigilant and aware to any possible slippage and act quickly to address any deviation.