Ideas for Leaders #215

All-consuming: Brand Management in the Digital Age

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Key Concept

Media fragmentation, globalization and expanding social networks are changing the way we view and follow brands. Leaders need to respond to these changes and challenges, taking a comprehensive approach to satisfying an increasingly diverse set of stakeholders in an ever more competitive environment. 

Idea Summary

The field of brand management is undergoing a metamorphosis as the pace of change in our world increases. The brand-building process we used to take for granted, particularly in terms of communication, has changed irrevocably. No longer can leaders and their marketing teams rely simply on slick advertising campaigns to market their products, boost the bottom line, and grow their brands. New technologies, expanding social networks, emerging markets, a globalised economy… all these and more are producing a more competitive and challenging environment.

Consumers are in the driving seat, dictating how they are communicated to, and choosing when to absorb that communication, at a time that suits them. ‘Shopping around’ has never been more meaningful a phrase, with easy online access to huge amounts of information, including reviews and testimonials.

The effect of such change is a shift of focus, away from the product brand – and its primary aim of customer satisfaction – towards the corporate brand, with its goal of ensuring loyalty among all stakeholders, not just customers, but also employees, suppliers, the media and investors.

A major challenge for leaders and their brands is how to interact successfully with these multiple stakeholders. Everything you do has to be consistent with your brand message, from the types of events you sponsor or support to the nature of CSR activities you get involved with – everything has to reflect a brand experience your stakeholders identify with. By adopting a multiple stakeholder approach to brand management you can expect to achieve greater loyalty and preference – get everyone on board and the brand will thrive. 

Business Application

  • Can you tell a good story? The brands that succeed in this ever-shrinking world will be those that can ‘tell their story’ to an increasingly diverse audience across many countries and sectors. Multi-stakeholder is the new norm. Leaders and their teams must deliver their brand’s promise by managing the brand experience, conveying the right message consistently for each point of contact with their various stakeholders, not just their customers.
  • Relinquish control: Leaders need to recognize the influence of social networks on stakeholders. This brand communication revolution that is happening right now can leave you with a sense of losing control, of ‘brand hijack’ as it is sometimes known. Accept this loss of control by viewing social media positively – your brand will hold its value and survive if it uses such networks to listen, talk and interact with its audience.
  • Be authentic: Leaders should focus on what their brands do rather than what they say. There is often a big gap between the two. Brands must deliver on their promise across all the touch points they have with their customers, using social networks to connect with their audience. A great example of such delivery is Twelpforce, a social media initiative launched by US electronic retailer Best Buy three years ago. The service, which has encouraged employees to handle online customer service enquiries and company promotions via Twitter, has sent over 60,000 tweets to customers from over 3,000 registered employees.
  • Every person counts: In developing your brand-building strategies, be mindful of getting the whole organization on side, from the board, to the management team, to the staff. Your employees need to understand the importance of creating a new brand experience, not least because it will improve their value as your ambassadors. In a B2B environment, acknowledge the crucial role your salesforce plays in building bonds and maintaining a strong brand with your customers. 
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Authors

Institutions

Source

Idea conceived

  • December 2011

Idea posted

  • September 2013

DOI number

10.13007/215

Subject

Real Time Analytics