Brand management has evolved. Gone is the paternalistic brand, talking at its consumers. The shift from traditional broadcast communication to a two-way model, the decline in the effectiveness of paid media and subsequent rise in importance of earned media signify a huge transformation in the way marketers approach brand management. In a world where marketers are mere custodians of the brand, how can they ever hope to successfully grow it?
This gets right to the heart of how the brand behaves. It’s not just about what it says. It’s about how it acts. Brands are becoming more open, more collaborative. And that means a shift in approach for brand managers, not just in the well documented new skill sets required of modern marketers, but crucially in mind set too.
Cultivating trust by using collaborative campaigns
In retaliation to a view held by many marketers that loyalty is an unachievable ‘nice to have’, we believe effective brand management requires a cultivation of trust, grown from authentic behaviour and collaboration with the people who’ll be buying their products and services. According to Erik Schoppen’s Build, Bridge, Bond methodology, to survive in the age of the connected consumer, brands today must live by three core marketing principles: Purpose, Promise and Participation.
People perceive brands as personalities with their own identities. A brand’s purpose is a demonstration of what it stands for and why it does things the way it does. Purpose is the most controlled of the three principles, in which marketers establish a brand personality that in turn determines brand image.
This describes the product’s benefits and the value it will add to consumer’s lives. Traditional marketing persists in telling us what we want. The danger here, is that as consumers we feel talked at, rather than listened to. Nobody knows what we want more than we do ourselves, so brands of the future must be open to listening to consumers, and creating products and services that people really want as opposed to what brands’ decide they need.
This is an uncontrolled environment for brands, where people decide for themselves what the brand stands for, how the products are used, if and how they communicate about the brand and whether positively or negatively. Participation is crucial for brand image as it signifies openness, honesty and authenticity; key traits in developing trust in any relationship.
Brand participation takes on many forms:
- A conversation between friends
- A recommendation
- A piece of user generated content
- Mass awareness via a word of mouth campaign
- Social buzz activation to feedback at scale
- Co-creation projects that help shape new product development
It’s through working together that people can see the intent and ideas behind what brands are trying to do. In the process, collaboration creates a mutual respect between brands and the people who buy from them. It harnesses the brainpower and skills of thousands of people to build the brand. It creates a psychological link: we’re not just inclined to stay loyal to the brand ourselves – we’re proud of it and we want to share it. We have a deeper ownership of the product. We have a stake in the brands we love.
Of course, the three principles are not isolated, rather connected in an ongoing cycle of intersections, each of which feeds the next. To evolve, brand management must bridge the gap between your promise and customer experience by delivering outstanding experiences across all touchpoints, and embrace those out of your control. Create long lasting bonds by involving consumers, listen to, acknowledge and act on suggestions for improvement from them and facilitate the spread of honest word of mouth to reinforce Purpose.
Successful brands of the future will enable and seek meaningful, two-way dialogue. They will thrive thanks to the genuine and sincere recommendations spread in return. They won’t have customers as such; instead they’ll have a community of co-marketers built on mutual trust and loyalty, as dedicated to growing the brand as the company itself.
In this new and exciting age of brand management, the brand team are no longer gatekeepers guarding the brand’s content and concepts. They are the curators of innovation and ideas conceived by their own communities.
Learn more about how tomorrow’s marketers will grow brands by rebuilding consumer trust in their brands.