The challenge that most brands are facing today using social media is that their brands don’t stand for anything. Certainly they make something or provide a service – but they don’t stand for anything. Bottom line is that your own brand ‘movement’ needs social media, but more than that it needs a higher purpose. At its core this is our modern reality.
You’re dealing with a new, wired, evolving, empowered consumer. Your brand’s success today depends on whether it is perceived as having a social purpose. It’s increasingly the reason consumer’s select one brand over another. Customers are no longer satisfied with just lodging complaints or casting opinions. Instead, they are voting with their social capital and turning away from companies that fail to listen and respond. The consumer is able to drive the conversation with or without the brand’s input – therefore only brands that are authentic and transparent will succeed.
In this rapidly changing landscape, marketers are challenged to humanize their brands and seize opportunities to engage customers across a multiplicity of touch-points and channels. Want to build a future-proof brand that stands for something? Here's a few hints:
1. Be Engaging
Brands that create rich, engaging stories will build relationships. Authentic brand stories are retold by fans and become viral. If you address your customer’s needs, it will foster brand building. Meaningful and advantageous engagement will shape your brand’s message. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn will give your brand an authoritative voice and build communities. Consistent engagement will increase your visibility, influence and make your brand profitable.
2. Be Relevant
A strong brand must be relevant. Brands that are viewed as “relevant” can go a long way toward making their competitors irrelevant. Instead of focusing on achieving brand preference, it is possible to reduce or make other brands irrelevant. A brand that offers something so different and special will create its own unique category and customers will perceive those as the only option, with no alternatives.
3. Be Accountable
In the future, brands will be held accountable for the good things they do (or do not). For example, Nike is highly engaged in efforts to demonstrate corporate accountability. Employing over 800,000 people worldwide, Nike was once criticized for employment practices of some of its suppliers in developing countries. Now, Nike posts results of external audits and interviews with factory workers at www.nikebiz.com. Brands build equity by pursuing a customer-centric brand strategy. Companies that reflect their target market’s beliefs, mirror them and link their brands to people’s feelings will succeed.
4. Be Collaborative
Technology now shapes the entire customer experience and has transformed marketing. There is a need for more collaboration between marketing and IT. Your customer is a moving target. It is critical for CMO’s and CIO’s to take leadership roles to align and form a partnership with a definitive plan for marketing transformation. There are riches to be won for brands through this partnership.
5. Be Creative and innovative
Brands must aspire to be creative and innovative to win customer loyalty. Even successful brands can become complacent over time and have tunnel vision. CMOs need to take a disciplined and decisive approach and tap into the company’s core strengths.
6. Be Purpose driven
The future of profit is purpose. Consumers want a better world. Brands that recognize the importance of doing good deeds will be rewarded with increased sales and market share. So, marketers must ask themselves: What is my brand’s purpose? If the answer is, “I don’t know,” there are agencies that can help. (Wink, wink.)
7. Be Responsible
Businesses are increasingly becoming part of the solution rather than the cause of the problem. What’s clear is that Social responsibility is a differentiator for products and brands that create economic value through corporate social responsibility.
8. Be Simple
Businesses that simplify products and provide clear, transparent, user-friendly communications enable customers to make informed decisions. These are the businesses that will succeed.
9. BE A GOOD ListenER
Aka "Give a shit". ;) We know as Marketers that the better we understand our target consumer the easier it is to engage them. Brands must listen to customers today and build strategies that respond to their needs in real-time. Listening enables the ability to infuse data-driven insights into every customer interaction, thus personalizing communications.
10. BE ONE WITH THE Crowd
Innovative marketers are turning to crowdsourcing. A crowdsourced campaign might include hundreds of creatives generating hundreds of ideas. It’s about asking your constituents to offer feedback and input into driving your brand direction (and success).
The business case for brand purpose or ideals is not about altruism or corporate social responsibility. It’s about expressing a business’s fundamental reason for being and powering its growth. It’s about linking and leveraging the behaviors of all the people important to a business’s future, because nothing unites and motivates people’s actions as strongly as ideals. They make it possible to connect what happens inside a business with what happens outside it, especially in the “black box” of people’s minds and how they make decisions. Ideals are the ultimate driver of category-leading growth.
A viable brand purpose or ideal cuts through the clutter and clarifies what you and your people stand for and believe. It transforms the enterprise into a customer-understanding machine, personalizing who your best customers are and what values you share with them. It helps crystallize your business’s existing and potential points of parity and points of difference with the competition. It illuminates your organizational culture’s strengths and weaknesses, so that you can see what needs to change and what doesn’t, what’s negotiable and what’s not, what can be outsourced and what is core.
Highly adaptive and flexible, a brand ideal is not tied to a particular business model and has no expiration date. It generates effective new business models, strategies, and tactics before the current ones have lost their freshness and begun to produce diminishing returns. Most important, a brand purpose or ideal enables leaders to drive results by being absolutely clear and compelling about what they value.
Welcome to the brave new world. Let us know if you need any help.
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